Heroes

Our fancy dinner oysters can tell us a lot about how our oceans are changing.

Find out why some baby oysters can't form strong shells.

True
The Wilderness Society

Oysters. We love 'em.

You can imagine why people love oysters so much: They're a low-fat, high-protein food with a fresh, briny flavor — nature's perfect bar snack.

New York Times food writer Mark Bittman is a fan, too. When he moved from the Big Apple to San Francisco in January, trips to a raw bar at a local market became part of his weekend routine.


But "there are troubled waters ahead for oysters," according to Bittman.

Image via Mark Bittman: California Matters.

Oysters are threatened by ocean acidification.

When we use fossil fuels, it not only endangers animals in the ocean with oil spills, but it also changes the actual chemistry of the ocean.

The extra carbon dioxide that burning fossil fuels adds to the environment causes ocean acidification, which lowers the water's pH level and can affect the skeletons and shells of sea creatures. The extra CO2 also affects the level of calcium carbonate minerals, which are important components of the shells of oysters and other shellfish.

Here's a visual of how the ocean is changing over time because of fossil fuel use.

The future has more jellyfish, fewer healthy coral reefs, and sick little shellfish on the bottom of the acidified ocean. Source: ClimateCentral.org, used with permission.

Ocean acidification means baby oysters can't form strong shells.

Without their calcium carbonate homes, the soft, naked bodies of oysters don't do so well. Oysters and other shellfish have evolved to protect themselves from predators with their shells. Clams without clam shells are not very tough.

Though acidification affects oceans worldwide, some of the early effects are being felt on the West Coast of the U.S. and Canada.

One family of oyster farmers has already moved away Washington to Hawaii. A shellfish farmer in British Columbia reported the loss of 10 million scallops due to ocean acidification.

The reason the West Coast is being hit with ocean acidification is also one of the reasons why it's such an abundant ecosystem. The area experiences "upwelling," a term for a pattern of water moving in the ocean.

As the cold water currents deep in the ocean hit obstacles (like the coast of California), that layer of cold water moves up toward the surface. The cold water from the deep brings up nutrients that support animal life, but it is also more acidified than the warmer surface of the ocean.

Experts expect the effects of upwells to worsen as we continue to burn fossil fuels in the coming decades.

Researchers are seeing the impact of ocean acidification firsthand.

In the video below, Mark Bittman discusses the future of oysters with researchers from the University of California, Davis. He visits them at the Hog Island Oyster Farm, an hour and a half drive north of San Francisco, to understand how climate change is affecting one of his favorite items on the menu.

The cure for ocean acidification? Leave fossil fuels in the ground.

By cutting the use of fossil fuels such as coal, we can help stop the ocean acidification already underway. Do it for the shellfish. Or do it because you love seafood snacks. Either way, it's a healthier ocean.

True

It takes a special type of person to become a nurse. The job requires a combination of energy, empathy, clear mind, oftentimes a strong stomach, and a cheerful attitude. And while people typically think of nursing in a clinical setting, some nurses are driven to work with the people that feel forgotten by society.

Keep Reading Show less

Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas teaches you how to pee.

A pelvic floor doctor from Boston, Massachusetts, has caused a stir by explaining that something we all thought was good for our health can cause real problems. In a video that has more than 5.8 million views on TikTok, Dr. Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas says we shouldn’t go pee “just in case.”

How could this be? The moment we all learned to control our bladders we were also taught to pee before going on a car trip, sitting down to watch a movie or playing sports.

The doctor posted the video as a response to TikTok user Sidneyraz, who made a video urging people to go to the bathroom whenever they get the chance. Sidneyraz is known for posting videos about things he didn’t learn until his 30s. "If you think to yourself, 'I don't have to go,' go." SidneyRaz says in the video. It sounds like common sense but evidently, he was totally wrong, just like the rest of humanity.

Keep Reading Show less

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

True

The energy in a hospital can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re experiencing it as a patient, visitor or employee. However, there are a few one-of-a-kind individuals like Elaine Ahn, an operating room registered nurse in Diamond Bar, California, who thrive under this type of constant pressure.

Keep Reading Show less

A burst of creativity and some serendipity changed the course of her life.

"If Found Please Read" author and creator Madison White started her writing career with 50 handwritten journals and a plan to sneak them into book stores across the nation. She saved about $2,000 from her waitressing job and decided to cross the country on a Greyhound bus on her self-proclaimed book tour. What she didn't realize was that her life would change before this adventure ever really started.

Keep Reading Show less
via Pexels

The Emperor of the Seas.

Imagine retiring early and spending the rest of your life on a cruise ship visiting exotic locations, meeting interesting people and eating delectable food. It sounds fantastic, but surely it’s a billionaire’s fantasy, right?

Not according to Angelyn Burk, 53, and her husband Richard. They’re living their best life hopping from ship to ship for around $44 a night each. The Burks have called cruise ships their home since May 2021 and have no plans to go back to their lives as landlubbers. Angelyn took her first cruise in 1992 and it changed her goals in life forever.

“Our original plan was to stay in different countries for a month at a time and eventually retire to cruise ships as we got older,” Angelyn told 7 News. But a few years back, Angelyn crunched the numbers and realized they could start much sooner than expected.

Keep Reading Show less