[Coral-List] Over fishing contributing to ocean acidification?

Douglas Fenner dfenner at blueskynet.as
Wed Jan 21 03:40:16 EST 2009

    I thought that the chemistry was that when corals secrete a skeleton,
they put more CO2 into solution in the water, which actually makes the water
more acid.  If fish solidify calcium carbonate, the same chemistry would
have to apply, wouldn't it??  Would reverse as the calcium carbonate later
dissolved.  But I'm no chemist.  (and I'm not defending overfishing!)   Doug

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Gene Shinn" <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
To: <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Sent: Monday, January 19, 2009 4:48 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] Over fishing contributing to ocean acidification?

> An interesting article about an article published in Science. Gene
> Fish an ally against climate change
>     * New Scientist 13:02 16 January 2009 by Catherine Brahic
> An unlikely ally may have been found in the fight against the effects
> of climate change. Fish excretions seem to play a key role in
> maintaining the ocean's delicate pH balance, says a study that also
> reveals that there are 2 billion tonnes of fish in the world's oceans.
> Bony fish excrete lumps of calcium carbonate, known as "gut rocks"
> which are thought to dissolve in the upper layers of the ocean. A
> team led by Rod Wilson of the University of Exeter in the UK has now
> shown that the sheer amount of gut rocks produced plays a key role in
> buffering the carbon dioxide that acidifies seawater.
> "This study really is the first glimpse of the huge impact fish have
> on our carbon cycle - and why we need them in the ocean," says
> Wilson's colleague Villy Christensen of the University of British
> Columbia in Canada.
> Protective role
> While marine biologists have known for some time that fish produce
> gut rocks, until now no-one had estimated just how much calcium
> carbonate is spewed out into the ocean in this way.
> It was widely believed that most marine carbonate is provided by the
> external skeletons of marine plankton. These microscopic organisms
> are likely to be hard hit as climate change increases the acidity of
> the oceans and their skeletons literally dissolve away.
> The new study reveals that fish play an important role in stopping
> this from happening.
> ferent models to estimate the amount of fish biomass that is in the
> global oceans, and its distribution.
> By drinking salt water, fish ingest a lot of calcium, and they
> excrete more or less calcium carbonate depending on their size and
> the temperature of the water. "For a given total mass of fish,
> smaller fish produce more than bigger fish, and fish at higher
> temperatures produce more than fish at lower temperatures," explains
> Wilson.
> Surprise finding
> The team then used data on how much carbonate fish produce on average
> to calculate how much the fish biomass represented in their computer
> models are likely to excrete.
> This revealed that between 3% and 15% of all the calcium carbonate
> produced in the oceans comes from fish. Wilson says this is a
> conservative estimate - he and his team think the real figure could
> be three times higher.
> "I expect it will be a big surprise to most of the ocean scientists
> who study the ocean carbon cycle," says Wilson. "Apart from a handful
> of fish biologists around the world, the scientific community were
> previously unaware that fish produce of any of this chalky mineral,
> let alone enough to be significant on a global scale."
> Eric Achterberg of the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton,
> UK, says the study offers an insight into an underrepresented marine
> process. "Whether the fish carbonate is really an important
> contribution to the mid-water alkalinity is not certain yet and forms
> an excellent topic of research," he says.
> 'Unrecognised allies'
> Wilson agrees that it is not yet certain whether the gut rocks do
> indeed dissolve in the upper layers of the ocean. Their chemical
> structure suggests that they are very soluble in seawater and should
> readily dissolve. But if future studies show this does not happen,
> this will mean the gut rocks sink to the bottom of the ocean without
> dissolving and buffering the oceans.
> Because fish carbonate production goes up with temperature, fish are
> likely to produce more carbonate - and be more effective buffers of
> ocean acidity - as temperatures increase through global warming.
> That's the good news. The bad news is that overfishing may have an
> additional downside: in addition to depleting food stocks, it could
> also deplete the precious carbonate buffer.
> Because of the complexity of ocean chemistry, "we cannot really say
> much with any confidence about how overfishing might affect ocean
> acidification says Wilson. "But we definitely need to study this more
> to help make better predictions about these future changes."
> "We must buck the current trend of clear-cutting of the oceans and
> foster these unrecognised allies against climate change," says
> Christensen.
> Journal reference: Science (DOI: 10.1126/science.1157972)
> -- 
> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
> ------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
> University of South Florida
> Marine Science Center (room 204)
> 140 Seventh Avenue South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
> Tel 727 553-1158---------------------------------- 
> -----------------------------------
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list
> -- 
> No virus found in this incoming message.
> Checked by AVG.
> Version: 7.5.552 / Virus Database: 270.10.9/1900 - Release Date: 1/18/2009 
> 12:11 PM

More information about the Coral-List mailing list