A new study suggests that the increase in acidity of oceans could cause trouble in the early development of Atlantic longfin squid

According to a new study led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the increase in acidity of oceans has put the early development of the Atlantic longfin squid at risk. This may also affect the ocean environment and coastal economies as squid are ecologically and commercially important.

"Squid are at the center of the ocean ecosystem-nearly all animals are eating or eaten by squid," says WHOI biologist T. Aran Mooney, a co-author of the study. "So if anything happens to these guys, it has repercussions down the food chain and up the food chain."

The authors of the study report that the oceans have been increasingly turning acidic for the last century and a half because of the increase of carbon dioxide in the air. Though water bodies absorb some of this carbon dioxide in the air and turn it into carbonic acid, this lowers the pH of the water, increasing its acidity. Researchers say that previous studies have shown that carbon dioxide levels are expected to rise in the coming years, subsequently there will also be a rise in acidification of oceans.

For the study, Mooney and lead author Max Kaplan gathered male and female Atlantic longfin squid (Loligo pealeii) from the waters of Vineyard Sound and transported them to a holding tank in the WHOI Environmental Systems Laboratory. When these squid mated and the females laid their egg capsules, the researchers transferred some of the capsules to one of two smaller tanks filled with Vineyard Sound seawater. The researchers watched as the eggs hatched and the squid began to develop in each of the two tanks, and measured the time taken for hatching, body length and other parameters as they grew.

"Amazingly, we found effects or changes in all those parameters," Mooney says. "Animals raised in high CO2 took longer to develop, which is a big deal when you're basically this egg mass on the bottom of the ocean and fish can just pop along and eat you."