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Image : Ocean Acidification: A Risky Shell Game

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Justin Ries holds two tropical pencil urchins (Eucidaris tribuloides) reared under different levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). The urchin on the right, grown in seawater under today's air conditions (400 ppm), is healthy and has normal spines. The urchin on the left, grown under very high CO2 conditions (2,850 ppm), is substantially damaged by the more acidic conditions. Most of its spines have fallen off, and the remaining ones show a pitted texture under the scanning electron microscope. Weighing the urchins confirmed that they were actually dissolving in the more acidic high CO2 conditions.

(Micrograph below by Justin Ries, WHOI, and photo by Tom Kelindinst, WHOI)

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Last updated: February 21, 2012
 


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