Sea Change: The Pacific’s Perilous Turn

Ocean acidification is one of the biggest environmental threats facing the planet. Yet because the science is complicated—and still in its infancy—no major news organization has attempted a deep, thorough analysis of the consequences. Reporter Craig Welch and photographer Steve Ringman of The Seattle Times bring this issue to life by crisscrossing the Pacific Ocean—from Arctic Alaska, the nation’s fish basket, to the American Northwest, where consequences are showing up now, to the Coral Triangle in the South Pacific, the most significant cluster of marine biodiversity anywhere in the world, and a place where millions of people rely for subsistence on marine life threatened by acidification.

Commercial fishing for everything from fish to crab in the icy Bering Sea faces new uncertainty as a result of acidification. But in many parts of the world, the stakes are far higher. From Tanzania to Madagascar and from Haiti to the Cook Islands, many coastal communities rely heavily for food on marine life susceptible to changing ocean chemistry. In Indonesia, The Seattle Times visited a stilt village where men and women gather most of their food from coral reefs that already are deeply threatened by warming temperatures. Ocean acidification will only make things worse. And for these people there is virtually no place else to turn for food or income.

The Seattle Times’ multimedia package details all these threats and more—from an in-depth look at the future of king crab and the story of one family of oyster growers who became climate-change migrants to exploration of the scientific debate over whether rapid evolution can help species adapt and the impact on vulnerable, seafood-dependent community like the stilt villagers in Indonesia.

See the full interactive multimedia series by The Seattle Times, including articles, pictures, graphics and video.

Updated 12/26/2013