Facing Climate Change: Oyster Farmers

Generally, shelled animals—including mussels, clams, urchins and starfish—are going to have trouble building their shells in more acidic water. Mussels and oysters are expected to grow less shell by 25 percent and 10 percent respectively by the end of the century. Urchins and starfish aren’t as well studied, but they build their shell-like parts from high-magnesium calcite, a type of calcium carbonate that dissolves even more quickly than the aragonite form of calcium carbonate that corals use. This means a weaker shell for these organisms, increasing the chance of being crushed or eaten. More about ocean acidification in our overview