Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 28 Issue 02

View Issue TOC
Volume 28, No. 2
Pages 146 - 159

Impacts of Coastal Acidification on the Pacific Northwest Shellfish Industry and Adaptation Strategies Implemented in Response

Alan Barton George G. WaldbusserRichard A. Feely Stephen B. WeisbergJan A. Newton Burke HalesSue CuddBenoit Eudeline Chris J. Langdon Ian Jefferds Teri King Andy SuhrbierKaren McLaughlin
Article Abstract

In 2007, the US west coast shellfish industry began to feel the effects of unprecedented levels of larval mortality in commercial hatcheries producing the Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas. Subsequently, researchers at Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery, working with academic and government scientists, showed a high correlation between aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) of inflowing seawater and survival of larval groups, clearly linking increased CO2 to hatchery failures. This work led the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association (PCSGA) to instrument shellfish hatcheries and coastal waters, establishing a monitoring network in collaboration with university researchers and the US Integrated Ocean Observing System. Analytical developments, such as the ability to monitor Ωarag in real time, have greatly improved the industry’s understanding of carbonate chemistry and its variability and informed the development of commercial-scale water treatment systems. These treatment systems have generally proven effective, resulting in billions of additional oyster larvae supplied to Pacific Northwest oyster growers. However, significant challenges remain, and a multifaceted approach, including selective breeding of oyster stocks, expansion of hatchery capacity, continued monitoring of coastal water chemistry, and improved understanding of biological responses will all be essential to the survival of the US west coast shellfish industry.


Barton, A., G.G. Waldbusser, R.A. Feely, S.B. Weisberg, J.A. Newton, B. Hales, S. Cudd, B. Eudeline, C.J. Langdon, I. Jefferds, T. King, A. Suhrbier, and K. McLaughlin. 2015. Impacts of coastal acidification on the Pacific Northwest shellfish industry and adaptation strategies implemented in response. Oceanography 28(2):146–159, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2015.38.


Alin, S.R., R.A. Feely, A.G. Dickson, J.M.Hernández-Ayón, L.W. Juranek, M.D. Ohman, and R. Goericke. 2012. Robust empirical relationships for estimating the carbonate system in the southern California Current System and application to CalCOFI hydrographic cruise data (2005–2011). Journal of Geophysical Research 117, C05033, https://doi.org/10.1029/2011JC007511.

Banas, N.S., B.M. Hickey, J.A. Newton, and J.L. Rueslink. 2007. Tidal exchange, bivalve grazing, and patterns of primary production in Willapa Bay, Washington, USA. Marine Ecology Progress Series 341:123–139, https://doi.org/10.3354/meps341123.

Brown, C.A., and J.H. Power. 2011. Historic and recent patterns of dissolved oxygen in the Yaquina estuary (Oregon, USA): Importance of anthropogenic activities and oceanic conditions. Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science 92:446–455, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2011.01.018.

Barton, A., B. Hales, G.G. Waldbusser, C. Langdon, and R.A. Feely. 2012. The Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas, shows negative correlation to naturally elevated carbon dioxide levels: Implications for near-term ocean acidification effects. Limnology and Oceanography 57:698–710, https://doi.org/10.4319/lo.2012.57.3.0698.

Bednaršek, N., R.A. Feely, J.C.P. Reum, B. Peterson, J. Menkel, S.R. Alin, and B. Hales. 2014. Limacina helicina shell dissolution as an indicator of declining habitat suitability due to ocean acidification in the California Current Ecosystem. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, https://doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2014.0123.

Bednaršek, N., G.A. Tarling, D.C.E. Bakker, S. Fielding, E.M. Jones, H.J. Venables, P. Ward, A. Kuzirian, B. Lézé, R.A. Feely and E.J. Murphy. 2012. Extensive dissolution of live pteropods in the Southern Ocean. Nature Geoscience 5:881–885, https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1635.

Chan, F., J.A. Barth, J. Lubchenko, A. Kirincich, H. Weeks, W.T. Peterson, and B.A. Menge. 2008. Emergence of anoxia in the California current large marine ecosystem. Science 319:920, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1149016.

Dumbauld, B.R., B.E. Kauffmann, A.C. Trimble, and J.L. Ruesink. 2011. The Willapa Bay oyster reserves in Washington State: Fishery collapse, creating a sustainable replacement, and the potential for habitat conservation and restoration. Journal of Shellfish Research 30:71–83, https://doi.org/10.2983/035.030.0111.

Elston, R.A., H. Hasegawa, K.L. Humphrey, I.K. Polyak, and C.C. Häse. 2008. Re-emergence of Vibrio tubishii in bivalve shellfish aquaculture: Severity, environmental drivers, geographic extent and management. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 82:119–134, https://doi.org/10.3354/dao01982.

Fabry, V.J., B.A. Seibel, R.A. Feely, and J.C. Orr. 2008. Impacts of ocean acidification on marine fauna and ecosystem processes. ICES Journal of Marine Science 65:414–432, https://doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsn048.

Feely, R.A., S.R. Alin, J. Newton, C.L. Sabine, M. Warner, A. Devol, C. Krembs, and C. Maloy. 2010. The combined effects of ocean acidification, mixing, and respiration on pH and carbonate saturation in an urbanized estuary. Estuarine, Coastal, and Shelf Science 88:442–449, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecss.2010.05.004.

Feely, R.A., C.L. Sabine, J.M. Hernandez-Ayon, D. Ianson, and B. Hales. 2008. Evidence for upwelling of corrosive “acidified” water onto the continental shelf. Science 320:1,490–1,492, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1155676.

Feely, R.A., T. Klinger, J.A. Newton, and M. Chadsey. 2012a. Scientific Summary of Ocean Acidification in Washington State Marine Waters. NOAA OAR Special Report.

Feely, R.A., C.L. Sabine, R.H. Byrne, F.J. Miller, A.G. Dickson, R. Wanninkhof, A. Murata, L.A. Miller, and D. Greeley. 2012b. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 26(3), GB3001, https://doi.org/10.1029/2011GB004157.

Frankignoulle, M., G. Abril, A. Borges, I. Bourge, C. Canon, B. DeLille, E. Libert, and J.M. Theate. 1998. Carbon dioxide emission from European estuaries. Science 282:434–436, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.282.5388.434.

Gaylord, B., K.J. Kroeker, J.M. Sunday, K.M. Anderson, J.P. Barry, N.E. Brown, S.D. Connell, S. Dupont, K.E. Fabricius, J.M. Hall-Spencer, and others. 2014. Ocean acidification through the lens of ecological theory. Ecology 96:3–15, https://doi.org/10.1890/14-0802.1.

Gazeau, F., L.M. Parker, S. Comeau, J.-P. Gattuso, W.A. O’Connor, S. Martin, H.-O. Pörtner, and P.M. Ross. 2013. Impacts of ocean acidification on marine shelled molluscs. Marine Biology 160:2,207–2,245, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-013-2219-3.

Gordon, D.G., and N.E. Blanton. 2001. Heaven on the Half Shell: The Story of the Northwest’s Love Affair with the Oyster. Washington Sea Grant, Seattle, WA, and WestWinds Press, Portland, OR.

Green, M.A., G.G. Waldbusser, S.L. Reilly, K. Emerson, and S. O’Donnell. 2009. Death by dissolution: Sediment saturation state as a mortality factor for juvenile bivalves. Limnology and Oceanography 54:1,037–1,047, https://doi.org/10.4319/lo.2009.54.4.1037.

Gruber, N., C. Hauri, Z. Lachkar, D. Loher, T.L. Frölicher, and G.-K. Plattner. 2012. Rapid progression of ocean acidification in the California current system. Science 337:220–223, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1216773.

Hales, B., L. Karp-Boss, A. Perlin, and P. Wheeler, 2006. Oxygen production and carbon sequestration in an upwelling coastal margin. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 20, GB3001, https://doi.org/10.1029/2005GB002517.

Hales, B., T. Takahashi, and L. Bandstra. 2005. Atmospheric CO2 uptake by a coastal upwelling system. Global Biogeochemical Cycles 19, GB1009, https://doi.org/10.1029/2004GB002295.

Harris, K.E., M.D. DeGrandpre, and B. Hales. 2013. Aragonite saturation state dynamics in a coastal upwelling zone. Geophysical Research Letters 40:2,720–2,725, https://doi.org/10.1002/grl.50460.

Hauri, C., N. Gruber, C.-K. Plattner, S. Alin, R.A. Feely, B. Hales, and P.A. Wheeler. 2009. Ocean acidification in the California Current System. Oceanography 22(4):60–71, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2009.97.

Hauri, C., N. Gruber, A.M.P. McDonnell, and M. Vogt. 2013. The intensity, duration, and severity of low aragonite saturation state events on the California continental shelf. Geophysical Research Letters 40:3,424–3,428, https://doi.org/10.1002/grl.50618.

Hettinger, A., E. Sanford, T.M. Hill, A.D. Russell, K.N.S. Sato, J. Hoey, M. Forsch, H.N. Page, and B. Gaylord. 2012. Persistent carry-over effects of planktonic exposure to ocean acidification in the Olympia oyster. Ecology 93:2,758–2,768, https://doi.org/10.1890/12-0567.1.

Hinga, K. R. 1992. Co-occurrence of dinoflagellate blooms and high pH in marine enclosures. Marine Ecology Progress Series 86:181–187, http://www.int-res.com/articles/meps/86/m086p181.pdf.

Hofmann, G.E., J.P. Barry, P.J. Edmunds, R.D. Gates, D.A. Hutchins, T. Klinger, and M.A. Sewell. 2010. The effect of ocean acidification on calcifying organisms in marine ecosystems: An organism-to-ecosystem perspective. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics 41:127–147, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.ecolsys.110308.120227.

Juranek, L.W., R.A. Feely, W.T. Peterson, S.R. Alin, B. Hales, J. Peterson, K. Lee, and C.L. Sabine. 2009. A novel method for determination of aragonite saturation state on the continental shelf of central Oregon using multi-parameter relationships with hydrographic data. Geophysical Research Letters 37, L01601, https://doi.org/10.1029/2009GL040778.

Kelly, R.P., M.M. Foley, W.S. Fisher, R.A. Feely, B.S. Halpern, G.G. Waldbusser, and M.R. Caldwell. 2011. Mitigating local causes of ocean acidification with existing laws. Science 332:1,036–1,037, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1203815.

Kroeker, K.J., R.L. Kordas, R. Crim, I.E. Hendriks, L. Ramajo, G.S. Singh, C.M. Duarte, and J.-P. Gattuso. 2013. Impacts of ocean acidification on marine organisms: Quantifying sensitivities and interaction with warming. Global Change Biology 19:1,884–1,896, https://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.12179.

Kroeker, K.J., R.L. Kordas, R.N. Crim, and G.G. Singh. 2010. Meta-analysis reveals negative yet variable effects of ocean acidification on marine organisms. Ecology Letters 13:1,419–1,434, https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1461-0248.2010.01518.x.

Kurihara, H., S. Kato, and A. Ishimatsu. 2007. Effects of increased seawater pCO2 on early development of the oyster Crassostrea gigas. Aquatic Biology 1:91–98, https://doi.org/10.3354/ab00009.

Mabardy, R. 2014. Exploring perceptions and experiences of the U.S. West Coast shellfish industry dealing with ocean acidification. Master’s Thesis, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR.

McLaughlin, K., S.B. Weisberg, A.G. Dickson, G.E. Hofmann, J.A. Newton, D. Aseltine-Neilson, A. Barton, S. Cudd, R.A. Feely, I.W. Jefferds, and others. 2015. Core principles of the California Current Acidification Network: Linking chemistry, physics, and ecological effects. Oceanography 28(2):160–169, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2015.39.

Miller, A.W., A.C. Reynolds, C. Sobrino, and G.F. Riedel. 2009. Shellfish face uncertain future in high CO2 world: Influence of acidification on oyster larvae calcification and growth in estuaries. PLoS ONE 4:e5661, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005661.

Pörtner, H.O. 2008. Ecosystem effects of ocean acidification in times of ocean warming: A physiologist’s view. Marine Ecology Progress Series 373:203–217, https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07768.

Ringwood, A.H., and C.J. Keppler. 2002. Water quality variation and clam growth: Is pH really a non-issue in estuaries? Estuaries 25:901–907, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02691338.

Ruesink, J.L., C. Roegner, B.R. Dumbauld, J. Newton, and D.A. Armstrong. 2003. Contributions of coastal and watershed energy sources to secondary production in a northeastern Pacific estuary. Estuaries 26:1,079–1,093, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02803365.

Rykaczewski, R.R., and J.P. Dunne. 2010. Enhanced nutrient supply to the California Current Ecosystem with global warming and increased stratification in an earth system model. Geophysical Research Letters 37, L21606, https://doi.org/10.1029/2010GL045019.

Southern California Coastal Water Research Project. 2010. Ocean Acidification Impacts on Shellfish Workshop: Findings and Recommendations. Technical Report 624, Southern California Coastal Water Research Project, Costa Mesa, CA.

Strong, A.L., K.J. Kroeker, L.T. Teneva, L.A. Mease, and R.P. Kelly. 2014. Ocean acidification 2.0: Managing our changing coastal ocean chemistry. BioScience 64:581–592, https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biu072.

Talmage, S.C., and C.J. Gobler. 2011. Effects of elevated temperature and carbon dioxide on the growth and survival of larvae and juveniles of three species of Northwest Atlantic bivalves. PLoS ONE 6(10):e26941, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0026941.

Waldbusser, G.G., H. Bergschneider, and M.A. Green. 2010. Size-dependent pH effect on calcification in post-larval hard clam Mercenaria spp. Marine Ecology Progress Series 417:171–182, https://doi.org/10.3354/meps08809.

Waldbusser, G.G., E.L. Brunner, B.A. Haley, B. Hales, C.J. Langdon, and F.G. Prahl. 2013. A developmental and energetic basis linking larval oyster shell formation to acidification sensitivity. Geophysical Research Letters 40:2,171–2,176, https://doi.org/10.1002/grl.50449.

Waldbusser, G.G., and J.E. Salisbury. 2014. Ocean acidification in the coastal zone from an organism’s perspective: Multiple system parameters, frequency domains, and habitats. Annual Review of Marine Science 6:221–247, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-marine-121211-172238.

Waldbusser, G.G., B. Hales, C.J. Langdon, B.A. Haley, P. Schrader, E.L. Brunner, M.W. Gray, C.A. Miller, and I. Gimenez. 2015. Saturation-state sensitivity of marine bivalve larvae to ocean acidification. Nature Climate Change 5:273–280, https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2479.

Washington State Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification. 2012. Ocean Acidification: From Knowledge to Action, Washington State’s Strategic Response. H. Adelsman and L. Whitely Binder, eds, Washington Department of Ecology, Olympia, Washington, Publication no. 12-01-015.

Wootton, J.T., C.A. Pfister, and J.D. Forester. 2008. Dynamic patterns and ecological impacts of declining ocean pH in a high-resolution multi-year dataset. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 105:18,848–18,853, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0810079105.