A Field Study of the Effects of CO2
Ocean Disposal on Mobile Deep-Sea Animals

Mario N. Tamburri,* Edward T. Peltzer,
Gernot Friederich and Peter G. Brewer

Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
7700 Sandholdt Road
Moss Landing, CA 95039-0628 USA

Izuo Aya and Kenji Yamane
Ship Research Institute
Ministry of Transport
3-5-10 Amanogahara, Katano
Osaka 576-0034, JAPAN

Marine Chemistry (2000) 72: 95-101.

Received: 28 May 1999.
Reviseded: 5 October 1999.
Accepted: 7 August 2000.

* Corresponding author. Tel: 831-775-1743; Fax: 831-775-1620.


Before the feasibility of ocean sequestration of anthropogenic carbon dioxide can be evaluated completely, there is a clear need to better understand the potential biological impacts of CO2-enriched low pH and high pCO2 seawater in regions of proposed disposal. We describe here the first empirical study directly examining animal responses to dissolving CO2 hydrates on the deep-sea floor. Using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to conduct experiments within Monterey Canyon, CA, we found that several species both invertebrate and vertebrate did not avoid rapidly dissolving flocculent hydrates when attracted by the scent of food. Furthermore, while there were no apparent short-term effects of decreased pH, mobile animals appeared to suffer from respiratory distress due to increased pCO2 when in close proximity to hydrates. Losses of higher organisms as a result of CO2 disposal in the deep-sea may therefore be more extensive than previously predicted from toxicological models. However, the extent of changes to surrounding seawater chemistry, and thus biological impact, is largely dependent on CO2 release method or the type of hydrate formed.


This work was supported by a grant to MBARI from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a Post-doctoral Fellowship from MBARI to M.N.T, and by the Ship Research Institute, Japan, to I.A. and K.Y. These experiments could not have been carried out without the exceptional support provided by the captain and crew of the R/V Point Lobos, and by the skilled pilots of the ROV Ventana. This publication is dedicated to the memory of Omero Tamburri, Jr.

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