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Ocean acidification can alter the taste of shrimps

News: Dec 29, 2014


A recent scientific study published in the Journal of Shellfish Research demonstrates that anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide have the potential to impact the quantity and taste of seafood – affecting both coastal economies and cultural traditions.

“Ocean acidification is impacting energy acquisition and storage in marine animals so we were expecting some effect but we were surprised by the clarity of the results”, says Dr. Sam Dupont from the University of Gothenburg.

Intensive fossil-fuel burning and deforestation over the last two centuries has increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and fundamentally altered ocean chemistry by acidifying sea water. Over the last decade, scientists have accumulated evidence that this ocean acidification can drastically impact marine species and ecosystems, contributing to a global biodiversity crisis and impacting some commercially important shellfish species.

New research conducted at the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences in Kristineberg, Sweden (by an international team of scientists from the University of Gothenburg, University of Quebec in Rimouski, and Plymouth University) demonstrated another way in which ocean acidification could impact seafood – by testing impacts on taste, texture, and appearance of the northern shrimp.

“It is well known that ocean acidification can impact marine organisms, including seafood items, but it is the first time that its effect on taste is investigated”, says Dr. Piero Calosi from the University of Quebec in Rimouski.

Not only did ocean acidification increase mortality of the shrimps, local connoisseurs could identify differences in their taste and appearance. The shrimps cultured in conditions representative of the present ocean were preferred three times more than shrimps exposed to “future ocean” conditions for three weeks.

The sea has always played an important role in Sweden. In particular, the west coast is famous for lobster, oysters, langoustine, mussels, fish and particularly shrimps. Global dependence on marine protein is expected to continue to rise dramatically with the increasing human population. Shrimp, in particular, are the top shellfish consumed in the United States. But marine organisms are much more than protein. They are a central part of our culture and traditions. Taste is one of the key factors influencing consumers’ behavior, and without global and local actions these changes due to ocean acidification have the potential to impact the seafood economy.

When it comes to ocean acidification, there is only one serious option: we need to decrease our carbon dioxide emission.
“Ocean acidification is often referred as the silent storm because you can’t see it, you can’t hear it, and you can’t smell it, but our research suggests that you just may be able to taste it”, says Dr. Sam Dupont.


Dr. Sam Dupont
The Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Gothenburg
sam.dupont@bioenv.gu.se |+46 31 786 9531


“First Evidence of Altered Sensory Quality in a Shellfish Exposed to Decreased pH Relevant to Ocean Acidification”
Author(s): Sam Dupont, Emilie Hall, Piero Calosi and Bengt Lundve
Source: Journal of Shellfish Research, 33(3):857-861. 2014.
Published By: National Shellfisheries Association
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2983/035.033.0320
URL: http://www.bioone.org/doi/full/10.2983/035.033.0320


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