Carbon pollution creating giant crabs, lobsters, and shrimp

Apr 12, 2013
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The Chesapeake Bay and other locations are facing a new kind of problem: giant crabs, which are growing beyond normal size due to carbon pollution. Such large crabs have the potential to disrupt the ecosystem, and are joined alongside lobsters and shrimp, which are also growing. Adding to the problem, however, is that the same pollution is stunting oysters.

This creates a peculiar issue of too much appetite, not enough food, since crabs eat oysters. As the carbon pollution levels in the ocean – which is caused by vehicles, factories, and other modern realities – continues to rise, the affected creatures will grow larger. Scientists estimate that blue crabs, in particular, could grow large enough in 75 – 100 years to disturb the ecosystem in the Chesapeake Bay area.

The problem grows from there (pardon the pun), with the carbon pollution-affected crabs putting their energy into the formation of new shells to the detriment of flesh. As such, there could come a time when crabs reach a giant size, yet contain little meat, leaving seafood lovers starkly disappointed. According to one study, blue crabs grow at about four time their normal rate when in carbon polluted waters.

During an interview, the University of North Carolina’s Aquarium Research Center’s Justin Baker Ries said: “Higher levels of carbon in the ocean are causing oysters to grow slower, and their predators — such as blue crabs — to grow faster.” It also affects lobsters and shrimp, and in a manner similar to oysters has a detrimental effect on coral.

[via Washington Post]


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