Less tasty shrimp, thanks to climate change

Dezidor/Wikimedia/Creative Commons

Less tasty shrimp, thanks to climate change

Climate change won’t just harm marine life—it could also affect how it tastes. A new study finds that as oceans become more acidic—thanks to the carbon dioxide emissions they suck up—they will sour the flavor of shrimp. Researchers took hundreds of northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis, pictured) and put them in tanks with water either of current acidity (pH 8) or projected acidity for 2100 (pH 7.5). The waters were 11°C, at the higher end of the range that shrimp can normally tolerate. The researchers chose that temperature to put their bodies under stress and thus make acidification’s effects stand out more. After 3 weeks, the team counted the number of surviving shrimp and did a taste test with 30 connoisseurs. Shrimp from less acidic waters were 3.4 times as likely to be judged the tastiest, while those from more acidic waters were 2.6 times as likely to be rated the worst tasting. Moreover, shrimp in the more acidic waters were 1.6 times as likely to die, the researchers reported last month in the Journal of Shellfish Research. The findings don't doom the shrimp industry, but they do show how ocean acidification's effects on seafood could extend well beyond simple matters of future seafood supplies to issues like quality. It’s possible, the researchers say, that shrimp may find a way to adjust, at least somewhat, to higher acidity in the long run and that acidification may have slightly different effects at different temperatures.

Follow News from Science

A 3D plot from a model of the Ebola risk faced at different West African regions over time.
dancing shoes