Rising carbon dioxide emissions have caused the world’s oceans to become 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution, affecting everything from marine life’s ability to build shells to the pH level of fishes’ blood, according to e360 digest.
Now, scientists have discovered that more acidic water also prevents mussels from attaching to rocks and other surfaces, which could have ramifications on the global food chain, the economy, and ecosystem health. Oceans today have a pH of about 8.1.
When the pH drops below 7.6, the adhesive plaque that cements mussels to hard surfaces becomes weaker, according to the new research by scientists at the University of Washington. Unattached mussels are easy prey for predators like crabs, fish, and sea stars.
Mussels play an important role in filtering pollutants from waterways. They are also a critical food source for coastal communities, with the industry worth an estimated $1.4 billion.