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Climate change threatens Southern Ocean’s food chain

shells.jpgShell weights of marine snails are getting lighter

Tasmanian scientists are worried a microscopic marine snail species found in the Southern Ocean may soon die out due to climate change:

The scientists say it is field evidence that sea life in the Southern Ocean is being affected by warmer water, and if these snails die out it could have dire consequences on the ocean’s food chain.

They took an expedition deep into the Southern Ocean on board the Aurora Australis in February, and collected a number of microscopic marine snails.

The scientists have found the snails have dropped half their shell weight over the past decade.

Dr Donna Roberts says it is evidence that climate change is affecting sea life in the Southern Ocean.

“Many researchers have been assuming we would see this kind of result for the past 50 years and this is the first time we’ve got a measured response to the changing of the ocean chemistry,” she said.

“It’s interesting to know what’s going to happen to commercial fish that eat them because a change in their diet might mean a change in where they actually are living, so it’s not just we might loose one variety of snail it actually could change the whole eco-system of the southern ocean.

“That’s what we’re most worried about that it could completely upset our commercial fish stocks.”

[From ABC News]