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Wireless Sensors Help Oyster Farmer Cope With Growing Threat

From:chafanViews:1692Date:2016-08-15

Wireless Sensors Help Oyster Farmer Cope With Growing Threat

Climate change is responsible for a number of threats to the U.S. shellfish industry. In recent years, Washington State's $270 million shellfish industry has been scrambling to address productivity losses due to ocean acidification, caused by a significant increase in carbon dioxide emissions that began at the start of the industrial revolution. In highly acidic water, it is difficult for shellfish larvae to create shells from calcium carbonate because the water is too corrosive. In 2007 and 2008, Pacific Northwest shellfish larvae hatcheries saw their output plummet by up to 80 percent. By enacting strict water pH monitoring practices, these hatcheries have largely recovered, but the larger seafood industry is under threat as oceans continue to acidify, which threatens the health of wild shellfish as well as coral, which are vital parts of oceanic ecosystems.

Now, new research has illuminated another climate-related threat to the shellfish industry. The study, published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, documents a link between warming seawater and an uptick in Vibrio bacteria. Humans who come into contact with these bacteria through various pathways, such as by consuming raw oysters that harbor the organisms or by swimming in water in which the bacteria live, can become very ill if the bacteria are present in high densities.