I’m as bad as anyone else at just thinking about polar bears and penguins when it comes to climate change. It’s just part of human nature that we’re always going to take far more interest in cute creatures, rather than things like… sea urchins.
Why should be worry about these squishy, colorful lumps? OK, as with all species, we should try to preserve them for the sake of biodiversity. But the thing about sea urchins is that so many other animals depend on them for food that if the sea urchins die off, a whole host of other marine organisms will also perish.
A new study has revealed that loads of marine life is suffering because of climate change, and not just because it’s getting warmer. Some of the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is being absorbed into the oceans, turning the water more acidic. This acid reduces the amount of calcium carbonate available – without this vital mineral, organisms can’t create tough shells.
The acidic waters had quite a few knock-on effects on the urchins: because their shells were thinner, they were more susceptible to the increasing temperatures. As they had to devote more energy to developing thicker shells, other growth was hindered, and they started developing abnormal shapes and movement.
All in all, the message is that climate change will have an incredibly large number of impacts – it’s not just about the odd polar bear in the Arctic or a glacier in the Himalayas. At the end of the day, less sea urchins means less cod, which means less food for us. And there are many more stories like that of the sea urchin that are still waiting to be discovered.
Filed under: Exploration, Nature, Science | Tagged: animals, Antarctica, Arctic, bear, bears, climate, climate change, cute, Environment, global warming, green, news, ocean, penguin, penguins, polar bear, polar bears, research, sea, sea urchin, urchin, water |