West Coast shellfish growers have learned to work around upwellings of corrosive waters and save the lives of their bivalve stocks.
Increased levels of carbon dioxide, or CO2, in the atmosphere are changing the chemistry of the oceans, making it more acidic. The CO2 surge stems mostly from coal and, to a lesser degree, oil-fired power plants. The resulting off kilter acidity reduces carbonate, the mineral building block of shells, skeletons and corals.
In 2005, oystermen first noticed failures in natural sets in Willipa Bay in southern Puget Sound, followed by failures at two of four of the region’s major shellfish hatcheries.