Effect of Ocean's CO2 Uptake

Exploring the Digestive System

Background of the Problem

We all know that carbon dioxide emissions are quite harmful to our environment, but most of us don't pay particular attention to the harm they do to our seas and oceans specifically. Once there, the CO2 is converted to carbonic acid, making the water more acidic. Previous studies showed that marine species and ecosystems can suffer in an acidified environment. Although the reason for the sensitivity was seen in physiological processes, mechanisms remained unclear. Scientists from the universities of Gothenburg and Kiel, as well as GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel and Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research found that ocean acidification leads to reduced rates of digestion in larvae of the ecologically important green sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis.

Its Significance

The impact that the carbon dioxide uptake is having in the digestive system of marine animals is tremendous. The problem is that the enzymes inside the stomach of sea urchins and other marine animals are actually optimized to work at a high pH (which is opposite from the digestive system of mammals, which work best at a low pH or an acidic level). Therefore, the acidification of oceans is also making enzymes in their digestive systems more acidic, and this doesn't allow them to function as they should. They are forced to eat more to compensate for the reduced amount of energy they are able to acquire from their food. Obviously, if they aren't able to compensate for the extra amount of consumption required, their living conditions would be extremely affected.

Sources

Butterfly Fish https://pixabay.com/en/butterfly-fish-marine-animals-568677/

Ocean Acidification World Map https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9e/WOA05_GLODAP_del_pH_AYool.png

Ocean's carbon dioxide uptake can impair digestion in marine animal. (2013, November 15). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131115104706.htm