What’s eating the sea butterfly?



AGENCIES

Published — Tuesday 27 November 2012

Last update 27 November 2012 1:08 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Rising acidity is eating away the shells of tiny snails, known as “sea butterflies,” that live in the seas around Antarctica, leaving them vulnerable to predators and disease, scientists said Sunday.
The study presents rare evidence of living creatures suffering the results of ocean acidification caused by rising carbon dioxide levels from fossil fuel burning, the British Antarctic Survey said in a statement.
“The finding supports predictions that the impact of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and food webs may be significant.”
The tiny snail, named for two wing-like appendices, does not necessarily die as a result of losing its shell, but it becomes an easier target for fish and bird predators, as well as infection.
This may have a follow-through effect on other parts of the food chain, of which they form a core element.
The world’s oceans absorb more than a quarter of man-made carbon dioxide emissions, which lower the sea water pH.
Since the beginning of the industrial era, our oceans have become 30 percent more acidic, reaching an acidity peak not seen in at least 55 million years, scientists say.
Scientists discovered the effects of acidification on the sea butterflies from samples taken around the Scotia Sea region of the Southern Ocean in February 2008.
The sea snails are an important source of food for fish and birds as well as an indicator of marine ecosystem health.
But until now, there has been little evidence of the impact of ocean acidification on such live organisms in their natural environment and the study supports predictions that acidification could have a significant effect on marine ecosystems.
The researchers examined surface water, where wind causes cold water to be pushed up from deeper water, because it is usually more corrosive to a particular type of calcium carbonate which the sea snails use to build and maintain their shells.
Climate models forecast more intense winds in the Southern Ocean this century if CO2 continues to increase, which will make the mixing of deep water with more acidic surface waters more frequent, the study said.
This will make calcium carbonate reach the upper surface layers of the Southern Ocean by 2050 in winter and by 2100 all year round, said the study’s co-author Dorothee Bakker, research officer at the University of East Anglia.
Since the start of the industrial revolution, the acidity of surface ocean waters has increased by 30 percent, according to NOAA research.
If CO2 levels continue to rise in the future, surface waters could be almost 150 percent more acidic by the end of this century, which has not been experienced for more than 20 million years.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: No date has been set so far for the visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Moscow, the Saudi Press Agency said on Sunday, quoting a source at the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Thursd...
JEDDAH: Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir says if the Syrian political process fails, Bashar Assad will have to be removed “by force.”“I believe Assad is weak and I believe Assad is finished,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview...
JAZAN: Saudi defense forces at the southern border shot down on Saturday a Scud missile that originated from Yemen and targeted Khamis Mushait where a major airbase is located, Al-Arabiya reported.Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told a sec...
JEDDAH: Employees of the Education Office in Al-Daer governorate, Jazan, where seven people were gunned down on Thursday are in a state of shock and perplexed as to what prompted the attacker — a teacher — to take such an extreme step.The teacher, id...
JEDDAH: The campaign to support Syrian refugees with all their needs is being carried out effectively, as per the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman....
RIYADH: The Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs has ordered the allocation of separate sections for female members of municipal councils.This was announced by Jedaie Al-Qahtani of the ministry. “This is in implementation of Clause 107 of the...
DAMMAM: The 9th Saudi Student Conference which is being held on Feb. 13-14 is sponsored by Umm Al-Qura University and hosted by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. It was organized by the Scientific Society for Saudi Students in the...
RIYADH: Over the past 10 years, begging in the Kingdom has increased substantially, with the number of organized gangs of expatriate beggars increasing to 85 percent of the total number of beggars, according to Social Affairs Ministry Majed Al-Qassab...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health said it expects its blood donation drive will received 450,000 milliliters (ml) of blood when the Janadriyah festival ends on Feb. 19.Khalid Ibrahim Zobaie, who supervises the blood donation project, said the drive is i...
JEDDAH: The Shoura Council’s decision to reduce working hours in the private sector from 48 hours to 40 hours per week would result in additional operational costs in the sector due to 30 percent higher wages for expat workers, according to Mansour b...
MADINAH: Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman recently visited a number of ongoing developmental project sites in the Holy City, as part of his efforts to ensure that they meet the set standards and deadlines.During the visit, he said that all the s...
RIYADH: The National Guard Ministry is studying the possibility of having two countries as guests of honor each year instead of one at the Janadriyah festival for culture and heritage, the Kingdom’s most prestigious annual festival.This was revealed...
DAMMAM: The Pakistan International School in Alkhobar hosted their 49th annual prize distribution ceremony to honor outstanding students in the presence of Pakistani Ambassador Manzoor Ul Haq and his wife, Nighat Manzoor.Haq appreciated the efforts o...
DAMMAM: The Weaam Association for Family Care in the Eastern Province has succeeded in addressing more than 700 cases of family disputes during the last one year.Abdulrahman Al-Khudair, Weaam’s director of public delations, said: “The association off...
JEDDAH: The Nakheel mall case has continued to grab the limelight, with a number of lawyers now offering their services to the girl who was roughed up by some Haia members in Riyadh. Some people also expressed, through social media, their support to...

Stay Connected

Facebook