Acidifying oceans could eat away at sharks’ skin and teeth

Hopefully the moonshark (and its ocean-ly ilk) can be saved from this pollution scourge.

Hopefully the moonshark (and its ocean-ly ilk) can be saved from
this pollution scourge.

For hundreds of millions of years, sharks have been roaming
Earth’s oceans making meals out of a huge range of critters, from
the whale shark gobbling up tiny krill to the
60-foot megalodon
that could take down whales. Their ancestral
line has survived mass extinctions with ease, most notably the
catastrophe that took down the dinosaurs.

But nothing could have prepared them for the scourge that is
humanity—we’re polluting their waters and snatching up their
prey and hunting them to extinction. And now, thanks to climate
change, humans may be transforming the very water sharks swim into
an existential threat: In findings published today in the journal
Scientific Reports, researchers show that prolonged exposure to
acidified water corrodes the scales, known as denticles, that make
up a shark’s skin. To be clear, this work was done in the lab and
on only one species, but the implications are troubling. As we
belch still more CO2 into the atmosphere, which reacts with
seawater and makes the oceans more acidic, the seas themselves
could become yet another threat that pushes sharks over the
brink.

These days, the oceans on average have a pH of 8.1, making them

25 percent more acidic than in pre-industrial times
. The lower
the number, the more acidic the water, so 1 is a strong acid (think
battery acid) and 14 is a strong base (milk of magnesia clocking in
around 11).

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Source: FS – All – Science – News
Acidifying oceans could eat away at sharks’ skin and teeth