Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Acidification of the world’s oceans was supposed to be a distant problem — nothing to worry about until some time in the future.
But a new study of juvenile Dungeness crab collected off the Pacific Northwest coast shows the crustaceans are vulnerable to conditions that exist right now.
Published last week in the journal “Science of The Total Environment,” the study found that tiny developing crabs sampled from coastal waters off Oregon and Washington suffered damage to their shells as well as to bristly, hairlike sensory organs believed to help them orient to their surroundings.
The findings have unsettling implications for a roughly $200 million West Coast fishery — California’s most valuable ocean crop and a key economic driver for struggling fishing ports on the North and Central Coast.
The California fleet caught more than $47 million worth of Dungeness crab last year, including nearly $5 million worth of crustaceans landed in Bodega Bay.
The new research, said veteran Bodega Bay fishermen Tony Anello, sounds “very discouraging.”