climate

A Rippling Effect: Ocean Acidification & Food Webs

From people to killer whales, to salmon, to zooplankton, the impacts from ocean acidification can affect a wide variety of organisms. As our oceans become more acidic, shelled organisms like oysters, zooplankton and pteropods have difficulty forming their hard exterior shell, which can lead to a decrease in their population. When populations of shelled organisms begin to decline, food for dependent species also begin to decline. Here off the shores of Washington, the Southern Resident killer whale mainly feeds on chinook salmon, eating around 385 lbs of fish a day! Where chinook salmon feed on small sea snails known as pteropods. As pteropods have already begun to feel the affects from ocean acidification, how will dependent species like chinook salmon and killer whales respond? 

Explore the infographic  below to see how ocean acidification affects other marine species throughout the food web.