Supersized crabs: Crabs are becoming “supersized,” or increasingly larger, due to the increase in carbon pollution over the past few decades in the world’s oceans, said researchers with the University of North Carolina’s Aquarium Research Center.
The Washington Post reported that the crustaceans will turn into more voracious predators and increase the population, posing problems for many bodies of water around the world but in particular, Chesapeake Bay.
“Higher levels of carbon in the ocean are causing oysters to grow slower, and their predators — such as blue crabs — to grow faster,” Justin Baker Ries, with the university, told the Post.
In the next century, higher acidification of the world’s oceans will turn blue crabs into more larger specimens. Lobsters, shrimp, and other crustaceans will also bulk up. Crabs, when exposed to more carbon, bulk up even faster, becoming more resistant to predators.
And also, the increase in the crabs’ size doesn’t mean the crabs will have more meat. The Post reported that the most growth will take place in the crabs’ shells.
The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says that since the Industrial Revolution, high levels of carbon have seeped into the ocean.
“The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the CO2 we release into the atmosphere every year, so as atmospheric CO2 levels increase, so do the levels in the ocean. Initially, many scientists focused on the benefits of the ocean removing this greenhouse gas from the atmosphere,” the agency says.
The carbon also changes the chemistry of seawater in a process called acidification.