10 Marine Species on the Brink of Mass Extinction Due to Ocean Acidification


Written by David DeFranza

The ocean is a delicate place, and tiny changes to its composition can cause serious devastation.

Adding carbon to the atmosphere contributes to global warming and climate change. Another less-discussed impact is ocean acidification—whereby carbon molecules diffuse into the ocean from the atmosphere, causing a steady rise in acidity—even though the impacts are already being felt by many species.



1. Blue Sea Slug

The beautiful blue sea slug, seen here, is one such creature. Blue sea slugs feed on the poisonous Portuguese man of war jellyfish, meaning that an ocean without them would be an ocean with a lot more stinging jellyfish.

Top photo from Gregory Moine via flickr.


NOAA Photo Library/flickr

2. Pteropods

Pteropods, too, are threatened by ocean acidification.

They may not look like much, but these tiny creatures are the foundation of arctic food webs that support larger marine animals like whales and polar bears. As the ocean becomes more acidic, pteropods actually begin to dissolve.


Liam Q./flickr

3. Brittle Star

Brittle stars, which are an important food source for flat fish, have been found to be highly vulnerable to ocean acidification in both adult and larval forms.


Nick Hobgood/Wikimedia

4. Squid

Acidic water has been found to interfere with squids’ blood, making it harder for them to absorb oxygen.

In addition to being an important part of marine food webs, squid are also part of lucrative markets around the world.



5. Shrimp

Shrimp, too, are immediately threatened by ocean acidification.

Even more than squid, these crustaceans represent an important part of food webs and livelihoods around the world.


Abi Skipp/flickr

6. Oysters

Oyster populations around the world have been suffering through a sudden crash.

Research has shown that the culprit here too is ocean acidification.


Paul Woods/flickr

7. Sea Urchin

Sea urchin are beautiful, but their significance in the ocean goes well beyond their looks.

These invertebrates play a crucial role in maintaining reef ecosystems by eating algae and preventing blooms.



8. Abalone

Abalone is another economically important sea creature threatened by ocean acidification.

Research has shown that the species may not survive 100 years at current rates of acidification.



9. Coral

Coral, which has already suffered from acidification around the world, is perhaps the best known victim of the alarming trend.

With the loss of coral comes the loss of some of the ocean’s most vibrant and diverse ecosystems.


Daniel Dionne/flickr

10. Clown Fish

Finally, the charismatic clown fish has been found with a higher instance of deafness and increases in brash behavior in more acidic waters—both of which lead to poor performance against the fish’s numerous predators.

This post was originally published by Treehugger.


Related Stories:

6 Problems Caused by Shrinking Biodiversity

Success! US Fishing Becomes More Sustainable

Ocean Acidification Makes Clownfish Go Deaf (Poor Nemo…)



W. C
W. C5 months ago

Thanks for the information.

William C
William C5 months ago

Thank you for caring.

Fi T.
Past Member 4 years ago

Act or we'll lose everything

Valentina R.
Valentina R5 years ago

How saddening. Why do we keep polluting the oceans?

The blue sea slug is simply stunning.

Melissa L.
Melissa L5 years ago

So sad! Thanks for the article!

Elizabeth Conlan
Elizabeth Conlan5 years ago

Sad to see anything happen to these and all these, such beautiful creatures of the seas

helga g.
Helga Guillen6 years ago

Is sad to see how humans are so heartless, they don't care about the species that live in our planet, is all about to make money, and save money. is the goverments fault because they don't care either, greed is the main factor that almost all species are extinct, is they don't do something now, after will be too late. goverments of the world please help our planet please help all the species because humans are next.

Lauren Tebo
Lauren Tebo6 years ago

we need to step up and protect these creatures!

Cindy Strousberg

We need to do a better job in protecting our Oceans