Terry the Pteropod on Ocean Acidification

Hello, my name is Terry and I’m a pteropod.  What exactly is a pteropod?  Well, I’m also called a sea butterfly and I have been described as a “coffee bean with wings.”  What I really am is a marine snail that is about the size of a lentil, which is less than half an inch long.  My terrestrial snail cousins have a hard shell on the outside and a soft body inside, while my shell is on my inside and my gelatinous goo is on the outside.

Why am I important?  Well if polar bears are the poster animals for the melting polar ice caps due to global warming, then I am the poster invertebrate for ocean acidificationOcean acidification is also due to global warming as a rise in ocean temperatures can cause seawater pH to drop and become more acidic.

So how does the ocean become more acidic?  Well the same carbon dioxide emissions that warm our atmosphere and cause global warming ultimately become absorbed by the oceans.  The oceans cover more than 70% of the planet.  Carbon dioxide dissolves in water and make it more acidic, like soda.  While the seawater in the ocean is not turning into Coke, a sprinkle here and there of acidic water can have devastating effects on ocean life.

Ocean acidification will directly affect me, my descendents, and my planktonic peers as my inner shell will dissolve as the water around me becomes more acidic. I will die. While I have a fairly short lifespan of a few months (to years if I escape being eaten!) to begin with, it is the new gap in the bottom of the food chain that will be troubling.  Fish won’t have anything to eat, and the larger animals that eat them will be hungry too.  Imagine if on land all the grass and insects suddenly got wiped out.  Then everything from birds, deer, and bears would be scrambling around for new food sources or face extinction.

So, what can you do to help?  What you are hopefully already doing to curb global warming: driving less, carpooling, taking public transportation, and exploring the use of alternative energies.  The 3 R’s help too: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.  Also support efforts to create Marine Protected Areas around the globe.  Less than 1% of the oceans are protected versus 12% of land being protected. Don’t forget to spread the word, as we can all make a difference by being informed!

UPDATE DECEMBER 2012: Scientists have found that pteropods are being affected by ocean acidification now, as opposed to a previous prediction of 2038. Link to article here

Ollie the Octopus and Ocean Acidification Definition

Octopus
Ollie the Octopus (photo by Cherilyn Chin)

Meet Ollie the Octopus and learn the ocean acidification definition

Hello, my name is Ollie, and I’m an Octopus.  I will give the ocean acidification definition shortly! Welcome to my blog entry, told from the point-of-view of an octopus.  I am ecstatic to have found myself a human translator (or is she an octopus translator??) named Cherilyn.  I chose a blog to get my thoughts and feelings across as I will only live to be 2-3 years old at most and it is very urgent that I share the many changes happening to my watery world now!

Ocean Acidification is due to Global Warming

My human translator recently told me about a documentary she watched, “A Sea Change,” which is about ocean acidification due to global warming.  All I could think was eek, my beak (mouth) and radula (teeth) will start to dissolve soon and they don’t make dentures for octopuses!  Also within a few octopus generations (and definitely within your human lifetime), my coral reef may be dead.  Yes, the corals that pre-date humans by thousands of years will be gone in a blink of geologic time.  Sure the earth and her oceans over millions of years can deal with the rise of temperatures in both the atmosphere and ocean, but ocean acidification may be the straw that broke the camel shrimp’s back. 

Ocean Acidification Definition

The ocean acidification definition is that all the little animals and plants that build up the massive coral reefs (which are visible from outer space!) will be gone if the saltwater they live in becomes more acidic and dissolves their calcium carbonate skeletons.  My favorite foods, crabs and shrimps, will be gone if they can no longer make their exoskeletons.  No longer will my worst nightmares consist of the “baby octopus bowls” served at Japanese restaurants.  No, it will be that I have no food to eat, and to boot, no place to live!

Stop destroying my ocean!

One in four ocean creatures lives on a coral reef and I believe there isn’t a more beautiful and productive place on earth.  In fact my human translator called coral reefs “heaven in the ocean” after a SCUBA dive in the South Pacific.  From what I’ve heard, due to industrialization, humans have caused massive destruction to the beautiful land all across the earth by exploiting her once plentiful resources.  I’m not looking forward to what humans can do to the oceans, nor can I ignore what they already have done. 

No part of the once thought of massive, untouchable and exotic oceans are left unscathed by the reaches of man.  There is no pristine anything anymore—from pollution caused by runoff from the land, to carbon dioxide and other chemicals spewed into the air that eventually make their way into the oceans (oceans cover more than 70% of the so called “earth”), to the overfishing of large predatory fish.  But increasingly (and supposedly) efficient methods of fishing are wiping out entire schools of both small and large fish in a blink of an eye and leaving nothing but millions of fish scales to sink to the bottom of the ocean forever.  Don’t get me started about the coral bleaching due to global warming, as seeing dead patches of coral really makes me want to really ink someone! 

In conclusion:

I’m glad I only live a few years at most.  If I successfully reproduce, I hope my offspring will have a healthy coral reef to live on, and food to eat.  I hope for your human offspring’s sake they don’t ask someday, “why are there no more coral reefs in the ocean? Or more importantly, “why didn’t you do anything to stop the destruction of the coral reefs?” 

You Can Help!!

Fortunately there is still time, and there is still hope.  Although only 1% of all the money donated to conservation causes is ocean related, you can make a difference one cent and one dollar at a time.  It costs nothing to sign on-line petitions, e-mail your local Senators or Representatives or to just to stay informed (follow my human interpreter on twitter @protectoceans or visit protecttheoceans.org.  Tell just one person what you’ve learned today and hopefully someday your grandchildren, after peeking underwater at a coral reef for the first time, or seeing a whale surface and spout in the ocean, will thank you for helping to protect the oceans and its inhabitants from destruction by mankind.

More from Ollie the Octopus:Ollie the Octopus on International Cephalopod Awareness Days and the State of the Oceans

Ollie the Octopus on Coral Reef Bleaching and the Great Barrier Reef

Ollie the Octopus and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Great White Shark’s Adventure at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

great white shark, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Great White Shark photo by: Cherilyn Chin

Hello, I’m a Great White Shark. My ancestors and I have been roaming the oceans since before there were dinosaurs on earth. We have been the kings and queens of the sea…until now. Humans have made the oceans unsafe for me and my fellow sharks. Not only is the water we swim in dirty with garbage and chemical pollutants, but we are being fished and killed nearly to extinction because of shark finning.

And unlike most fish that are fully utilized, just our fins are cut off. This is because our fins are used in Asia for a delicacy called shark fin soup. To add insult to injury, finned sharks are most often thrown back in to ocean alive to die a slow, agonizing death. What hurts another shark hurts me too, as it is almost unbearable to see a fellow shark alive for days on end, and unable to swim due to missing fins.

Recently, I went on an exciting adventure. I was accidentally caught in a fishing net and taken on board a fishing boat. I was sure I was going to die like many of my friends before me. But I was lucky, and I was taken alive! I first went to a very large outdoor ocean pen where I could swim freely. I was fed fish off a stick. It was quite a treat to not have to catch my own food! How long will this luxury last, I kept wondering to myself.

I was later transported in a large tanker truck to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where I was put into the Open Sea tank. While the fat tuna in the tank looked tantalizing enough to eat, I enjoyed being fed salmon by a pole. I would have preferred to catch my own meals, but it was fun being lazy! I saw many people each day through the aquarium window. I loved the transfixed looks of awe on their faces when I swam past. The flashes were annoying, but luckily they didn’t happen very often (thank you docents!).

I felt myself growing larger each day. One day I sensed one of the yellowfin tuna getting weaker from sickness. Once I smell blood in the water, my primitive instincts kick in and chomp! I bit hard into that tuna. That got many of the marine biologists at the Monterey Bay Aquarium worried that I was getting too big for my britches, as well as too large for the tank.

Before I knew it, I was in a stretcher on my way back to the tanker transport truck. They stuck a satellite tag onto my back so they could track where I traveled in the ocean. The tag eventually popped off and sent information back to the marine biologists that told of my travels. But before the tag popped off, each time I felt the tag as I swam through the open ocean I remembered my great adventure to and from the Monterey Bay Aquarium!

Also see 10 Cool Shark Facts: Your Questions Answered!

For more on sharks at the Monterey Bay Aquarium click here