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As Neptune Shakes His Head

The increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not only drives global warming, but also raises the amount of CO2 dissolved in ocean water, tending to make it more acidic, potentially a threat to sea life. The ocean’s delicate acid balance may be getting help from an unexpected source, fish poop.

fishAlkaline chemicals like calcium carbonate can help balance the acid. Scientists had thought the main source for this balancing chemical was the shells of marine plankton, but they were puzzled by the higher-than-expected amounts of carbonate in the top levels of the water.

Researchers report that marine fish contribute between 3-15% (or more) of the total carbonate. Bony
fish, a group that includes 90 percent of marine species, produce carbonate to dispose of the excess calcium they ingest in seawater. This forms into calcium carbonate crystals in the gut and the fish then simply excrete these “gut rocks,” (a separate process from digestion and production of feces).

The total mass of bony fish in the ocean is estimated at between 812 million tons and 2,050 million tons, which they said could produce around 110 million tons of calcium carbonate per year. The carbonate produced by fish is soluble and dissolves in the upper sea water, while that from the plankton sinks to the bottom.

Too bad that doesn’t translate to land based critters. Maybe we would have to flush twice to get ours to the launch pad on time. Or maybe we could fling some cow dung up into the sky and eliminate a couple of tons of CO2. Of course there would be another issue with dodging the fall-out,…while holding your nose.

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No Responses to “As Neptune Shakes His Head”

  1. wilson Says:

    Same with the land, the extinction rate of sea creatures is rapidly increasing during the last 3 decades, Linda…

    I’m a little bit worry that in the next few hundred years, is there any fishes that swimming in the oceans/seas!?

    wilsons last blog post..Snacks – Is It Good or Bad For Your Health?

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