Warming oceans put food web at risk

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New York, Feb 24 (UNI) As climate change is turning oceans warm and more acidic, sea creatures are facing severe stress and the entire food web is at risk, experts have warned.

A new study on pterpods-- tiny marine snails the size of a lentil, that are eaten widely by so many species-- revealed that carbon dioxide in the ocean environment were putting them at risk.

The creatures are eaten by fish that are in turn consumed by other animals, such as penguins. ''These animals are not charismatic but they are talking to us just as much as penguins or polar bears,'' said researcher Gretchen Hofmann.

If by 2050 they are not able to make a shell anymore, the impact on the food chain would be catastrophic, she said.

As marine life deals with increasing acidity, the larvae have to ''re-tune'' their metabolism in order to still make a shell, she explains, adding, the physiological changes make the animals less able to withstand warmer waters and they become smaller.

''These observations suggest that the 'double jeopardy' situation of warming and acidifying seas will be a complex environment for future marine organisms,'' she said.

UNI XC SYU KN1411

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