Ocean Acidification Explained

Italian marine biologist, graphic designer, and communicator, Dr. Tullio Rossi, explains the science of ocean acidification, its effect on baby fish, and what we can do to prevent it.

“I would like you to imagine you are a baby fish
You are small and you are very cute
And you are happily drifting in the ocean
When you are about two weeks old your body starts changing
You become strong, you grow functional fins
But most importantly your instincts are telling you that is time to move on
And make the move to the place where grown up fish live
It’s time to go to the reef
But, how to get there, right
You are far offshore and don’t have a map
Well, thankfully reefs are really noisy places
And because the noise of the reef propagates long distances offshore
You can simply follow this sound as a guide
So finally following the sound of the reef you get to the destination
Settle in the beautiful reef and live happily
But there is a problem, far away from you humans are burning fossil fuels like crazy
Unfortunately for you about a third of the carbon that humans are releasing in the atmosphere is dissolving in the ocean and changing its chemistry in a process called ocean acidification
Research shows that levels of ocean acidification, those expected by the end of the century, can cause big problems for our marine friends
I discover that baby fish can become disoriented and instead of being attracted by the sound of the reef, as they should, they become deterred by that sound
So now imagine to be that baby fish at the end of the century
Ocean acidification is now interfering with the functioning of your brain
Your instincts are telling you to go in the wrong direction
Your are literally a fish lost at sea
You have little chances of survival and you will probably never reach dinner plate size
So going back to us I want you to understand that what is at stake here is not just the life of the baby fish but also the multi billion dollar fishing industry, thousands of jobs and the livelihood of millions of people you rely on fish as the main form of protein
Fortunately it is not too late and we can stop ocean acidification before it becomes too dangerous
All we need to do is reduce carbon emissions and each one of you can help
I ask you to please listen to the signs and start doing something that will ensure a bright future for the oceans, for the humankind and for our bigger fish
This research is the most important thing I have ever been involved in
I am doing my best but I need your support to help me continue my work, attend conferences and engage with the general public
Thanks you very much”