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November 26 2012

Sea changes harming ocean now could someday undermine marine food chain


Scientists years ago figured out that a group of tiny snail-like sea creatures crucial to marine food webs may one day be an early victim of changing ocean chemistry.

Researchers predicted that pteropods, shelled animals known as sea butterflies, could begin dissolving by 2038 as human-caused carbon-dioxide emissions begin souring the seas in a process known as ocean acidification.

But new research by Seattle scientists concludes that corrosive seas are damaging pteropods right now decades earlier than expected. And that damage was recorded in the south Atlantic Ocean, where surface pH doesn't dip as low as it has off the Washington coast or in Puget Sound..

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