Meghan Zulian wears a colorful scarf and a black turtleneck
Meghan Zulian, a doctoral candidate studying earth and planetary sciences in the Ocean Climate Lab at the UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory, studies how ocean acidification, and more broadly climate change, affects culturally, economically and ecologically important shellfish. (Courtesy of Meghan Zulian)

What Shells Tell: Studying Abalone with Meghan Zulian

"White abalone shells ​are​ magnificent structures. Translucent during the marine snail’s juvenile days, the extremely durable shell increases in opacity as the organism ages, gaining its paint-splatter-esque red, brown and white coloring from the algae it eats.  

But abalone, along with other marine organisms, are facing a crisis, one that affects the integrity of their shells.  

As carbon dioxide emissions increase in the atmosphere, so too does the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by our oceans. The presence of this chemical compound leads to a lower pH, increasing the acidity of ocean waters. This negatively affects shellfish that rely on specific environmental conditions to build and maintain their shells. Like oysters, clams and yes, abalone."

Read the full story at College of Letters and Science News

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