Save the seas, the fish, and California coastal communities!
Who We Are
We are the 2019-2020 UCLA Ocean Acidification Undergraduate Research Team. With the help of the Bay Foundation, we will continue researching the potential of seagrass and kelp forest habitats to reduce the effects of ocean acidification in the Santa Monica Bay.
While many people understand that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are responsible for climate change, fewer know of the damage it causes to our oceans. When atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, it dissolves and chemically reacts to form carbonic acid. This phenomenon is called “ocean acidification” and has many negative effects. For example; increasingly acidic water can dissolve the skeletons and shells of many types of marine organisms. This can lead to cascading effects which erode the overall health of our oceans.
While sea life today is able to tolerate a small amount of carbonic acid, the sudden increase in acidity is too severe for many of them to adapt. Acidic water damages the shells of organisms such as snails, oysters, and lobsters, as well as their larvae. Negative impacts on organisms at the bottom of the food chain affect every organism that relies on them. These damages have impacted humans as well; for example, oyster farmers are already losing their stock due to increasingly acidic waters. Fishermen, aquatic farmers, and many others who rely on the ocean could be put out of work. Many types of seafood will become only a memory if this problem is not addressed.
Santa Monica Bay is home to many coastal communities that rely on the health of the ocean to thrive. Our team will study ocean acidification in order to properly inform communities and address this threat. One potential solution is the planting of marine photosynthesizers such as algae and aquatic plants. Much like planting trees on land helps absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, planting photosynthesizers can remove the dissolved carbon dioxide from the water before it acidifies. Research by previous UCLA students has already uncovered the potential of California’s kelp forests to minimize the damage of ocean acidification. This year we, along with the Institute of Environment and Sustainability (IOES), will focus on the local seagrass meadows to determine to what extent they can reduce the effects of ocean acidification in Santa Monica Bay.
Our team will build upon previous students’ research to determine the factors that affect how efficiently seagrass habitats can protect the organisms in Santa Monica Bay from rising ocean acidification. Our research will also assess the potential ecological benefits to planting seagrass beds. The information we gather will help policy makers and the public better understand how to address this problem.
We Need You!
While we would love to be able to single-handedly eliminate the threat of rising acidity from our oceans, we cannot do it alone. With your donation, you will directly help us produce a comprehensive analysis of our coastal waters by allowing us the funds to conduct on-site research via UCLA’s very own research vessel, the Zodiac. Once aboard the Zodiac, we can travel throughout Santa Monica Bay and utilize a multitude of scientific instruments to take direct measurements and make observations of our aquatic ecosystems. Field work is invaluable to this project, as it gives us the information to be able to provide an accurate analysis of our waters and the way to preserve its health. Please consider donating and help fight the destruction of our coastal waters.