As you may recall, ocean acidification is the phenomenon in which carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in the surface waters of the ocean, producing carbonic acid that (in sufficient quantities) shifts the pH balance of the ocean toward acidity and impairs the ability of animals like oysters and corals to extract the calcium carbonate they need to build their skeletons or shells. In the past 200 years, the ocean has absorbed nearly a third of carbon dioxide emissions, resulting in a 30% increase in ocean acidity. There’s evidence that ocean acidification is already impacting the health and survival of bay scallops (like that little guy in the photo) and other shellfish.
In an effort to raise awareness about the problem of ocean acidification – and their research on the topic – scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey are trying something a little out of the ordinary: they’re making postcards. This particular one caught my eye, not because it was breathtakingly exotic. Exactly the opposite. A scallop nestled in eelgrass is a scene you might find any number of places around Cape Cod. It’s a reminder that ocean acidification isn’t just happening to remote coral reefs; it’s happening right here and now.