Hyalocylis striata (All photos: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian)
About a quarter of all carbon dioxide released into the air settles into the oceans and increases water acidity. Ocean acidification is bad news for the multitude of marine life equipped with shells and exoskeletons made of calcium carbonate, which becomes scarcer and more difficult for these organisms to secrete as the pH of water decreases.
A broken shell of a Limacina helicina
Scientists have already observed the dissolution of thecosome and psuedothecosome shells in the Antarctic. Meanwhile, the shell-less gymnosomes may not be physically affected by the acidification, but since their entire food source consists of shelled pteropods, their prey is now in danger of disappearing.
Clione limacina, a gymnosome
To capture the photos, Osborn collects living specimens while scuba diving off the coasts of Mexico and California. After bringing them aboard a research ship, the fragile organisms are placed in a shallow tank of clear water and photographed using a Canon 5D camera with a 65mm lens. To capture the subtle colors of the transluscent creatures, several flashes are used.
Eggs of a Cavolina uncinata
Clio recurva covered in a colony of hydroids
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