While it is still uncertain exactly how the architecture of sand dollars [sediment-dwelling organisms] will change, their use in this installation is intended to represent the diminishing dollar return of commercial fisheries under ocean acidification.
I'm Martina Doblin, a marine scientist researching the responses of marine communities to ocean change. I want to understand the mechanisms by which organisms can cope with the unprecedented rate of change in the Anthropocene (sensu Stoermer and Crutzer). I use observational and experimental approaches in my research, working in the UTS: Climate Change Cluster since 2009.
Emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere are increasing CO2 concentrations in the upper ocean, and altering seawater carbonate chemistry - a process known as ocean acidification. As a consequence, the capacity of calcifying organisms to produce their CaCO3 skeleton is diminishing.
In this work, I use sediment-dwelling organisms called "sand dollars" to demonstrate the potential impact of ocean acidification. These organisms have a rigid internal skeleton made of calcium carbonate whose architecture is likely to be negatively impacted by rising CO2. The water inside the bottles is indicative of pH declines that will occur in the future. As the pH decreases with rising CO2, the sand dollars become smaller. While it is still uncertain exactly how the architecture of sand dollars will change, their use in this installation is intended to represent the diminishing dollar return of commercial fisheries under ocean acidification.
Associate Professor Martina Doblin
University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. 2014