Dr. Emily Hall

Scientist, Mote Marine Laboratory


EZ0C0972

You’re going to be hearing a lot about “ocean acidification,” especially if Dr. Emily Hall has any-thing to do with it. The 36-year-old scientist (and marathon runner) is passionate about her work as ocean acidification program manager at Mote Marine Laboratory; we asked her to give us five reasons why we should be, too.

It’s the “evil twin” of climate change. “The ocean has always absorbed that CO2, but because of the ever-faster rate at which we’re putting it in, the ocean has to work overtime and is becoming more acidic.”

It’s bad for marine life—especially any kind of organism that has a skeleton or builds a shell. “Corals are really susceptible. Ocean acidification dissolves skeletons and prevents the building of new skeletons or shells.”

Florida is especially vulnerable. “It could affect our shellfish industry. And Florida’s coral reefs in the Keys are one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet and they start the lifecycle of a lot of things that we eat here.”

We can slow it down. “There’s evidence that coral reefs do a lot better with global changes like this if they’re healthy to begin with. If there are fewer pollutants affecting them, they’ll be stronger.”

Public education is important. “Mote is working on building an ocean acidification testing lab here, and students in my class at Ringling College, where I’m an adjunct, create outreach tools—board games, video games—so people can understand it. I’ve seen a great response in young people; there’s such eagerness when we talked to them about it.”

 

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