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February 16, 2012
Mexican scientists found what may be the adaptation of marine species at a high level of acidity in the seas.
The phenomenon occurs in the Gulf of California, northwest of the country, which assesses the possibility of exploiting geothermal energy.
In this area, known as the Wagner basins and Consag, researchers from the Institute of Geophysics, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) found species that, unlike other regions in the world have survived an environment with high level of acidification .
At first glance the shells of snails and hedgehogs body did not seem affected, says Rosa Ledesma Prol, a researcher at the Institute and participating in the project. The phenomenon is still under analysis.
Wagner and Consag basins are located at the head of the gulf, right in the mouth of the Colorado River that carries an unknown amount of fertilizer runoff from agricultural fields in Mexico and the United States.
The region is part of the San Andreas Fault, where it joins the North American and Pacific plates. In the zone earthquakes occur frequently and therefore is also an area with high potential for geothermal energy.
In these waters scientists found methane UNAM and high doses of carbonic acid, generated by the contact of water with carbon dioxide in the air there.
It is a process that began perhaps thousands of years, but that represents a lethal mix for the exoskeleton (shell) of some mollusks and other marine life, remember Prol Ledesma.
"An acidic environment dissolves the carbonates quickly. You can test if you have a pussy, leave it in vinegar or water with gas and will be undone," he explains.
The researchers collected more than 30,000 samples are analyzed to find out what could adapt.
"In preliminary taxonomic analyzes are not observed significant changes but we must study well the agencies. We are just finishing the stage of identification of samples," says Ledesma Prol.
A high level of acidity decreases the amount of calcium carbonate formed in calcareous phytoplankton, based on the food chain in the oceans.
In addition, some species significantly reduce its ability to defend, because the shells that protect them lose strength.It also affects the formation of coral, and threatens the survival of the species associated with this organization.
Mexico is particularly sensitive to this problem: its shores is located near the second largest coral reef in the world after Australia.
The process of ocean acidification is directly related to the emission of gaseous pollutants at the same time have caused the effect of global climate change, says the researcher at the UNAM.
Scientific studies warn that the problem substantially change the underwater ecosystem.