Ocean Acidification Cut Down to Size

Shark Week has become a staple of American television. Debuting in the summer of 1988 the event has morphed into a week-long block of programming at the Discovery Channel featuring all kinds of entertaining and educational shows focusing on sharks. Hot off the heels of this year’s event, I could not help but be drawn to the title of an article pertaining to these menacing but often misunderstood fish species: “Shark teeth can resist ocean acidification.”

Written by Leung et al. (2022) and published in the journal Global Change Biology, the article examined how the supposed twin-evils of the radical environmental movement, i.e., global warming and ocean acidification, might impact sharks, and in particular, their teeth. Results of the study revealed slight differences in various mechanical properties under ocean acidification alone or temperature alone. Higher temperature, for example, decreased both teeth elasticity (indicated by a higher elastic modulus) and mechanical resilience, whereas ocean acidification increased teeth elasticity and reduced teeth hardness (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. The mechanical properties of shark teeth, including (a) hardness, (b) elastic modulus and (c) mechanical resilience after exposure to different seawater temperature and pH treatment conditions (mean + SE, n = 4). Control = 16°C, pH 8.0; OA = 16°C, pH 7.7; Temp = 19°C, pH 8.0; OA × Temp = 19°C, pH 7.7. Source: Leung et al. (2022).

So it is that another scientific study has shown ocean acidification and warming to be a non-problem. And that is good news for the producers of future Shark Week television events—they will continue to get all the footage they could ever want of those enormous pearly-whites chomping away in another good old-fashioned shark-feeding frenzy!

Authored by Craig Idso and originally published at the MasterResource on 22 August 2022 here.

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