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Investigating Ocean Acidification at Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument (San Diego, CA) -- Cabrillo National Monument is initiating an ocean acidification monitoring program to detect long-term trends in ocean pH. Following protocols developed by Olympic National Park, Cabrillo NM is installing specialized SeaFET pH sensors in the intertidal zone to continuously measure the acidity of the ocean. Connecting these data sets with the current NOAA cruise presents a great opportunity for Cabrillo NM to collaborate with fellow researchers and to better understand the connectivity of near shore ocean environments to our rocky intertidal.

Cabrillo NM is one of the best-protected and easily accessible rocky intertidal areas in all of Southern California. Cabrillo’s intertidal zone is a frequently visited tourist destination in San Diego due to the wide variety of seaweeds and invertebrates that call the intertidal zone home. As acidity increases in the ocean, it becomes more difficult for intertidal organisms to build shells and perform functions essential for life. Cabrillo NM is concerned about the impact that ocean acidification will have on its marine biota and the ability of park visitors to enjoy a seascape rich in marine life. In order for park scientists to best protect the diverse array of natural resources, they must first understand the threats that impact those resources resulting from a changing climate.

Thanks to our U.S. Navy partners, Cabrillo NM was able to make it out early this morning to collect nearshore water samples at two stations. These samples will help link the intertidal zone to the NOAA cruise station offshore and give scientists an idea of how acidity changes in the surface ocean as it makes its way closer to shore. Park researchers took additional water samples in the intertidal zone to coordinate water sampling with both the R/V Brown and the Smith Lab at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. Together, this coordinated sampling effort will assist in deciphering the regional patterns in water chemistry, a difficult endeavor for any researcher in isolation. While ocean acidification is a global issue, collaborative working groups such as these make it possible for resource managers to preserve the future of protected marine areas. With this pioneering research, Cabrillo National Monument is committed to addressing and managing challenges posed by our rapidly changing climate for this and future generations.

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