February Lecture “The Effects of Ocean Acidification On Clam Growth and Survival: An Uncertain Future for Florida’s Estuaries and Aquaculture Industry”

Speaker: Noah Gorman

Marine Biology Student at Florida Atlantic University Honors College

Manatee Master at Manatee Lagoon – An FPL Eco-Discovery Center

Within the aquaculture industry, Florida estuaries are utilized for their potential to grow commercially harvestable clams. The smallest size clams ready to be planted, called ‘seed clams” are placed in field nurseries across estuarine mudflats where they feed on phytoplankton until they have grown to harvestable size. However, planting clams in field nurseries brings environmentally dependent risks. Clam aquaculture within these field nurseries are inherently vulnerable to the influences of acidic/suboptimal pH swings, with the youngest clams at highest risk. The rising influence of ocean acidification may cause an even greater decline in optimal water conditions for various estuarine fauna.