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Changing Climate in Hawaii Affects Fish and Invertebrates

January 19, 2014
fish and inverts

Original artwork by R. Mason

Over 20% of the marine fish and invertebrates found in the waters of Hawaii are unique to our islands. Marine invertebrates include: sponges, anemones, mollusks, sea cucumbers, and many other creatures.

As CO2 is absorbed into the ocean creating carbonic acid, the oceans gradually become more acidic. While the damage to coral species is easy to envision due to their identifiable calcium skeletons, the damage to other marine creatures is more subtle. Scientists are only beginning to understand the long-term impacts to fish and invertebrates. It is known that many of these animals develop skeletons of calcium carbonate, a process very sensitive to seawater acidification, especially during the earliest stages of life and growth.

The negative effects of ocean acidification and rising seawater temperatures combine to more significantly impact marine animals than either would alone. For example, a decline in oyster reproduction was intensified when both factors were combined.

This Week’s  MYTH  Buster:  “Volcanoes make more greenhouse gases than people.”

Active volcanoes do produce a substantial amount of greenhouse gases. But if the emissions of every volcano in the world were combined, they would only account for less than one percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Far less than what people produce.

I Will Make a Difference: by turning off the air conditioner.

More on climate change and the National Park Service

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