OAP Projects in the GULF OF ALASKA


Interactions between ocean acidification and metal contaminant uptake by Blue Mussels

Interactions between ocean acidification and metal contaminant uptake by Blue Mussels

David Whitall - NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science

Assessing ocean acidification as a driver for enhanced metals uptake by Blue mussels (Mytilus edulis): implications for aquaculture and seafood safety

Why we care
Ocean acidification causes changes in the chemistry of stressors such as metals and may affect both the susceptibility of these animals to the contaminants as well as the toxicity. This is especially important for animals like blue mussels and other economically important shellfish that accumulate toxins in their bodies. Metal accumulation as a co-stressor of ocean acidification is not well documented for northeastern U.S. shellfish aquaculture species and better understanding these relationships supports seafood safety. 

What we are doing
This work investigates the impacts of metal speciation (forms) on blue mussels under acidified conditions in both field and laboratory experiments. Scientists will first study uptake rates of these metals by blue mussels and then see how changing conditions affects their accumulation and toxicity. Comparing what they learn in the lab to what occurs in the field where these mussels are farmed, helps support decisions for seafood safety and industry best practices.

Benefits of our work
Coastal managers and aquaculturists can use these results that provide the societal benefits of better informed siting of aquaculture and safer seafood.


Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Alaskan and Arctic fishes

Impacts of Ocean Acidification on Alaskan and Arctic fishes

Tom Hurst - Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Effects of OA on Alaskan and Arctic fishes: physiological sensitivity in a changing ecosystem

Why we care
There is significant concern about ocean acidification disrupting marine ecosystems, reducing productivity of important fishery resources, and impacting the communities that rely upon those resources. To predict the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of acidification, it is critical to understand the complex interactions between environmental stressors of physiology and ecology of marine fishes. Previous work on Alaskan groundfish focused on direct physiological effects of OA on early life stages. We need to further this work to understand the interaction between OA and co-stressors like elevated temperatures on fish productivity. 

What we are doing 
This AFSC project examines the interactive effects of OA and elevated temperatures on three fish species that are critical to Alaska and Arctic fisheries: Pacific cod, Arctic cod, and yellowfin sole. Laboratory experiments will track the impact of OA exposure on adult Arctic cod reproductive output, egg quality, and larval production. Further experiments will consider the potential for within-generation and trans-generational acclimation and adaptation to environmental changes. Risk assessments for regional fisheries will incorporate the data from this project.

Benefits of our work
Findings from this research will provide the foundation necessary to evaluate the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of ocean acidification in Alaskan and Arctic waters.


Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Surveying the state of ocean acidification along the U.S. West Coast

Surveying the state of ocean acidification along the U.S. West Coast

Richard Feely - Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory

PMEL Sustained Ocean Acidification Biogeochemical and Ecological Survey Observations

Why we care
U.S. West coast-wide hydrographic surveys have been conducted intermittently from 2007 to 2017, providing evidence for the geographic extent and severity of ocean acidification in the continental shelf ecosystem. Scientists on the NOAA West Coast Ocean Acidification (WCOA) discovered that the combined effects of anthropogenic and biologically-derived carbon dioxide resulted in significant biological impacts for oyster larvae and pteropods, which are small, ecologically important mollusks for the food web. 

What we are doing
This project executes a large-scale survey of ocean acidification carbonate chemistry in the California Current System and continues processing data and publishing scientific papers based on 2016 and 2017 surveys findings. This survey determines the spatial distributions of temperature, salinity, pH, dissolved inorganic carbon, total alkalinity, oxygen, nutrients, and biological parameters along the west coast of North America. Survey results will provide the basis for accurate assessments of changing ocean chemistry in the following areas: 1) spatial variability; 2) extent and causes of long-term changes in carbonate system parameters and their impacts on calcifying (shell-building) organisms; and 3) empirical relationships for obtaining high-resolution information on ocean acidification collected on moorings. 

Benefits of our work
This project links the combined stressors of increased temperature, acidification, and hypoxia (low oxygen) with effects on marine organisms in the region and identifies spatial variability of acidifying conditions during the spring/summer upwelling season. In addition to scientific partners, this project engages a NOAA Teacher At Sea (TAS) fellow on the cruise to help develop outreach and education on West Coast ocean acidification.


Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Salmon and sablefish responses to elevated carbon dioxide

Salmon and sablefish responses to elevated carbon dioxide

Andrew Dittman - Northwest Fisheries Science Center

Resiliency and sensitivity of marine fish to elevated CO2: osmoregulatory neurosensory behavioral and metabolic responses in salmon and sablefish

Why we care
Elevated levels of marine carbon dioxide can disrupt how many marine fishes detect their environment, impairing their ability to respond appropriately to chemical, auditory, and visual cues. The mechanisms underlying differences in species sensitivity and resilience are poorly understood. This NWFSC project will explore the mechanisms underlying differences in carbon dioxide sensitivity between marine species that occupy habitats with different carbonate chemistries.

What we are doing
We will compare regulatory capabilities and behavioral responses of sablefish and salmon to improve our understanding of how future fish populations may adapt to changing ocean chemistries. Our primary objectives are to build on existing OA infrastructure and previous research at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center to determine: 1) the mechanisms underlying sablefish resilience to low pH waters, and 2) the potential behavioral and physiological impacts of low pH exposure in pink and Chinook salmon. 

Benefits of our work
Pacific salmon and sablefish are key species in the marine ecosystems of the western United States. They are an integral part of the history, culture, and economy of the West Coast and Alaska. This research advances our understanding of impacts of OA on salmon and sablefish behaviors and sensory systems. Findings enable fishery managers and scientific partners to identify species, populations, and geographic areas of concern. Ultimately, project results will inform managers about the resiliency and sensitivity of salmon to OA and assist their efforts for conservation priorities.


Wednesday, August 31, 2022
Effects of ocean acidification and temperature on Alaskan crabs

Effects of ocean acidification and temperature on Alaskan crabs

Chris Long - NOAA/NMFS Alaska Fisheries Science Center

Effects of predicted changes in ocean pCO2 and interactions with other stressors on the physiology and behavior of commercially important crabs in Alaska

Why we care 
Ocean acidification disrupts the internal acid-base balance of crabs and may hinder the creation and maintenance of shells. Previous studies on commercially important crab species in Alaska found that ocean acidification changes physiology, decreases growth and condition, increases mortality, decreases hatching success, and changes exoskeleton (shell) hardness and structure in many Alaska crab species. Ocean temperature is a co-stressor, which may either decrease or increase the effects of ocean acidification on crabs. These individual effects may lead to population level decreases and impact coastal communities that rely on them if these crabs are unable to acclimate or adapt.

What we are doing
The Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) aims to enhance our understanding of species responses to ocean acidification, predict how changes in ocean chemistry will affect marine ecosystems and organisms, assess socioeconomic impacts, and provide ocean acidification education and outreach. This project continues to assess the physiological response to ocean acidification of early life history stages in crabs. Researchers will examine the potential for acclimation of crab species through experimentation. Experimental data will be used to inform modeling efforts to assess the dynamics of the crab populations and coastal community resilience to future environmental changes in the ocean.

Benefits of our work
The AFSC team will continue to address individual physiological responses that can be scaled to population level effects. Additionally, we will focus on cellular and molecular responses to better understand the potential for acclimation or adaptation. Results from this project will inform models, including stock assessments for long-term fisheries management through the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.


Wednesday, August 31, 2022
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