“As climate change continues to wreak havoc on land, marine ecosystems are also showing signs of environmental trauma. One group of organisms that is especially sensitive to environmental changes are tiny, free-swimming pteropods called sea butterflies. Like canaries in a coal mine, the thin shells of these sea snails make them perfect subjects to evaluate the Earth’s oceanic chemistry.
About a quarter of all carbon dioxide released into the air settles into the oceans and increases water acidity. Ocean acidification is bad news for the multitude of marine life equipped with shells and exoskeletons made of calcium carbonate, which becomes scarcer and more difficult for these organisms to secrete as the pH of water decreases.”