As Carbon Dioxide Changes the Sea, Shellfish Biologists Work to Adapt
To anyone who has spent a languid summer afternoon tumbling in the waves on South Beach or watched the earth’s closest star dip into the horizon at Menemsha, the ocean can seem eternal and unchanging. But scientists are increasingly discovering that human activity is transforming what was once thought to be an invulnerable resource. The ocean is getting warmer, more acidic, louder and filled with the detritus of civilization. What effect these changes will have on the ocean’s inhabitants in the decades to come is unclear.
Warming is perhaps the most well-known man-made effect. While the past winter and summer have been a wake-up call to some on land, underwater in southern New England the changes have been well underway for more than a decade. Near the Vineyard that has meant a staple of the coastal New England diet long associated with its historic fishing community has shifted north.
“The southern New England lobster fishery has undergone essentially a collapse in the last decade,” said state senior marine fisheries biologist Robert Glenn. Mr. Glenn is not shy about drawing a line between the discouraging trend and larger forces.