Lebanon Reporter

Community News Network

April 8, 2013

Crabs supersized by carbon pollution

WASHINGTON — It is the dawn of the super crab.

Crabs are bulking up on carbon pollution that pours out of power plants, factories and vehicles and settles in the oceans, turning the tough crustaceans into even more fearsome predators.

That presents a major problem for the Chesapeake Bay, where crabs eat oysters. In a life-isn't-fair twist, the same carbon that crabs absorb to grow bigger stymies the development of oysters.

"Higher levels of carbon in the ocean are causing oysters to grow slower, and their predators — such as blue crabs — to grow faster," Justin Baker Ries, a marine geologist at the University of North Carolina's Aquarium Research Center, said in an recent interview.

Over the next 75 to 100 years, ocean acidification could supersize blue crabs, which may then eat more oysters and other organisms and possibly throw the food chain of the nation's largest estuary out of whack.

That would undermine an effort to rebuild the stocks of both creatures. Virginia and Maryland are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into rebuilding the populations of blue crabs and oysters to some semblance of their historic numbers.

The problem extends beyond crabs and the Chesapeake Bay. Lobsters and shrimp are also bulking up on carbon dioxide along the Atlantic coast. Like oysters, coral that helps protect small organisms from big predators is being adversely affected by higher acidity in the waters.

Crabs put away carbon like nobody's business. The more they eat, the faster they molt, a growth spurt during which their shells go soft. Carbon helps speed the process so that they emerge bigger and perhaps stronger, less vulnerable to predators and more formidable predators themselves.

At UNC, marine geologists are analyzing video of the slaughter that took place when they put mud crabs and oysters in tanks they intentionally polluted with carbon over three months for a 2011 study.

Text Only
Community News Network
Featured items
Click below to browse and order photos


Photos from June 2014

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide