Ocean acidification is one of our planet’s most pressing threats. Yet about 75 percent of Americans have never heard of it. It is caused by a build-up of CO2 in the planet's seas which then lowers the ocean's pH level. Among other effects, ocean acidification limits the availability of a very important chemical compound: calcium carbonate. Shelled sea creatures—like crabs—use calcium carbonate to build their exoskeletons. A more acidic ocean, therefore, spells trouble for highly lucrative crab-fishing industries.
In this episode of Field Notes we hear from Steve Ringman. Steve is a photojournalist, and is part of the reporting team behind "Sea Change" the multimedia series on ocean acidification from the Seattle Times. As part of this reporting project, Steve was tasked with documenting the effects of ocean acidification's complex chemical reactions, portraying current and future changes to sea life, and making it clear that these chemical changes will affect you and me. Not the easiest photography assignment.
As part of this assignment, Steve climbed aboard the Arctic Hunter, a crab-fishing vessel in the Bering Sea not unlike those featured in the television show 'The Deadliest Catch.' What was supposed to be a straightforward four-day trip, turned into a tumultuous ten-day voyage. Listen in to hear Steve recount what it was like to be a journalist at sea documenting an industry threatened by ocean acidification.