Alaska is known for its abundant supply of some of the world’s best seafood, but researchers say that seafood could be negatively affected if the levels of carbon dioxide continue to rise and, in turn, lower the pH levels of world’s oceans.
It’s a trend called ocean acidification, and it could mean trouble for everything from crab to salmon.
"The Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea and the Arctic are more vulnerable to change of ocean acidification because of some unique factors and characteristics that are present up here," said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researcher Jeremy Mathis.
Mathis said lower pH levels mean more acidic waters, a problem for species that grow shells. That includes crabs, shrimp, oysters and tiny creatures called terapods.
"We are seeing cases right now today where terapod shells are dissolving because the waters have become corrosive enough," said Mathis.
The rise is carbon dioxide levels is directly related to burning to fossil fuels, Mathis said.
"It's as simple as that," he added. "The more oil and gas we burn, the more CO2 we emit into the atmosphere, and that is the only driving force behind ocean acidification."
Mathis said NOAA is studying pH levels with buoys anchored in different bodies of water, and by taking research vessels out to areas they're interested in studying.
Some effects are being seen to the terapods that pink salmon feed on, but it's not entirely known how acidification will affect the pink salmon population. Researchers are trying to determine how, or if, the pink salmon can survive without the terapods.