Signs of shell dissolution detected in Dungeness crab larvae

Posted May 5, 2018
The carapace, or external shell, of Dungeness crab larvae show signs of shell dissolution as a result of exposure to ocean acidification in the natural environment. Above, extensive pit marks are visible on a carapace magnified 11,000 times under the scanning electron microscope – a sign that its carbonate crystals are dissolving.

Researchers have detected signs of dissolution in the carapace, or external shell, of Dungeness crab larvae in response to ocean acidification in the natural environment, the first such documentation that shell dissolution already has begun in this commercially important species.

The finding was obtained as part of an ongoing two-year study that began in 2016 to predict impacts to the Pacific Northwest Dungeness crab industry from ocean acidification.

Researchers observed severe dissolution patterns that are indicative of exposure to corrosive water at the earliest stages of development. The findings suggest that this commercial fisheries species – a $150 million industry on the U.S. West Coast – could face serious, population-level challenges in the coming years.

The study will help spark important discussions about best management practices for fisheries and ecologically protected coastal areas in the face of intensifying acidification.

More news related to: Climate Change, Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia