In a Swedish fjord, European researchers are conducting an ambitious experiment aimed at better understanding how ocean acidification will affect marine life. Ultimately, these scientists hope to determine which species might win and which might lose in a more acidic ocean.
The sea urchin is a doughty animal that can withstand cold and turbulent seas, eat almost anything, and defend itself from many predators — though not human gourmands — with its pincushion of tough spines. It’s one of the creatures that lured biologists to establish one of the world’s first marine research stations in 1877 at Kristineberg on Sweden’s west coast, for the sheltered Gullmar Fjord there is characterized by deep, cold waters that support a wide array of sea life.
That water is still being piped into laboratories to nourish aquariums filled with urchins, fish, sea stars, and other local marine fauna. But today most of the ongoing experiments in Kristineberg revolve around what biologists have taken to calling “the other CO2 problem” — the ways in which humanity’s giant, ongoing experiment in altering the world’s atmosphere is causing the oceans to become more acidic. Even the pristine-looking Gullmar Fjord — with its granite shores lined with spruce and pine trees, clear waters, and teeming populations of eiders, gulls, and many fish species — isn’t immune to that global change.
See on e360.yale.edu