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Story Publication logo January 31, 2015

Field Notes Podcast: Climb Aboard the Arctic Hunter

Sea Change: The Pacific’s Perilous Turn

In 2009, The Seattle Times reported that ocean acidification – the plummeting pH of seas from carbon...

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Deckhands aboard the crab boat Arctic Hunter in the Bering Sea off Alaska separate male and female snow crab. Red king crab are highly susceptible to changes in water chemistry, which raises concerns about whether snow crab will be, too. Image by Steve Ringman. Alaska, 2013.

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.

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Environment and Climate Change

Environment and Climate Change

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