Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ocean Acidification Recycled Oyster Shell Wellfleet Maine Job Opportunity Ten Lobster Facts

Ocean Acidification

Ocean acidification is a rising issue and it is reportedly even affecting steamer clams here in New England.

Every day, oceans do us a huge favor by absorbing about a third of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by human activities.

Carbon dioxide lowers the pH of the oceans, causing them to become more acidic and corrosive. The basic chemistry is simple: as seawater at the surface of the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it forms carbonic acid, the same weak acid found in soda pop. Carbonic acid breaks down into hydrogen ions, which make water more acidic. Seawater is not technically an acid because it measures above 7 on the pH scale, but this excess carbon dioxide shifts the pH of the ocean farther towards the acidic end of the scale.

This reaction also robs the water of carbonate ions, which are important building blocks to many marine creatures including mussels, scallops, corals, sea urchins, barnacles, crabs, and lobsters. Even tiny plankton use carbonate ions to build shells and skeletons. As the concentration of that key building block drops in more acidic seas, those creatures must expend more energy to assemble the calcium carbonate minerals they need. As water grows even more corrosive, the creatures’ protective shells and structures can simply dissolve.

Economically there could be significant impacts as half of the US annual $4 billion in commercial fishing revenue is derived from crustaceans or shellfish.

An environmental group called Siightline put together a nice overview piece on the topic. To see the report that is more geared to the Pacific Northwest  click on this link. While it is more targeted for that region, the concepts are valid for here as well.

Recycled Shell at the Wellfleet Oyster Festival

Oyster shell for recycling in Wellfleet  Photo by B. Wigren
One of MOP's board members took this photo of the oyster shells that would be recycled at the Wellfleet Oyster Festival. It appears that immediate recycling without a drying period was permitted since the oysters all came from those waters and would not be bringing disease in from a new location. The shell serves two purposes. Many of the shells have spat (small baby oysters) attached to them so they are returning those young ones to grow. And second, the shell can serve as a substrate for spat from next years reproduction to settle on.  There is a large and significant volunteer force who makes this happen. Bravo!

Maine Job Opportunity

Mook Sea Farm, located in mid-coast Maine, is looking for a person to take over responsibility for microalgae production in our hatchery.  They seek a person who knows sterile technique, clean room operation, and is capable of maintaining axenic cultures on a commercial scale.  The position will be salaried and full time.  The person hired needs to be a “team player” and will be expected to also help out with other hatchery work, and when the hatchery is not running, to also work on the water.
Send resumes or questions to

Ten  Interesting Lobster Facts

One of our volunteers is at the School of Journalism at Boston University and they are putting together a web magazine on the water. While Kristen will soon be completing a piece on MOP the other content is very interesting as well. Below is a link to ten lobster facts that she put together. I thought mylobster IQ was fair, but was surprised to find how much more there was to learn. 

MOP brings us into contact with divers fairly frequently and one of them who dives for lobsters told me that there seemed to be two types when it comes to the traps. A portion could climb into the trap eat and find their way out. Another portion would go into the trap and be stymied, remaining inside until they were harvested.  Here is the question- Is our lobster industry creating an artificial selection process that is making the lobster population smarter by weeding out the less intelligent members?

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