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Science

Increased Carbon Emissions Creating Giant Crabs 203

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-for-one-would-like-to-welcome-our-new-crab-overlords dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A lot of things in America are supersized: our portions, our drinks and now, apparently, our crabs. New research reveals that crabs can grow much faster and larger when water is saturated with carbon.This means that as greenhouse gas emissions grow, so will these crustaceans."
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Increased Carbon Emissions Creating Giant Crabs

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:35AM (#43391803)

    I for one welcome our steel pincered overlords.

    • Ok (Score:5, Funny)

      by fyngyrz (762201) on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:47AM (#43391949) Homepage Journal

      We're going to need giant tubs of melted butter.

      • by kilodelta (843627)
        And genetically engineered giant lemons too!
      • Re:Ok (Score:5, Funny)

        by houstonbofh (602064) on Monday April 08, 2013 @11:37AM (#43392521)
        Bigger crabs and lobster, and someone thinks this is a bad thing? I am going outside to rev my SUV for a while...
        • Re:Ok (Score:5, Insightful)

          by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday April 08, 2013 @11:43AM (#43392593) Homepage Journal

          Bigger crabs and lobster, and someone thinks this is a bad thing? I am going outside to rev my SUV for a while...

          My thoughts exactly!!

          My first thought on reading this was "Hey, there is an upside to this whole global warming thing". Why is it that anytime green house gasses, etc are discussed, that everything is gloom and doom?

          Everything has balance, let's look at the good things for instance.

          A softshelled crab that would fill a plate all by itself?

          YUM!!

          • by Type44Q (1233630)

            Everything has balance, let's look at the good things for instance.

            Let's burn down all the old-growth forests; forest fires are known to trigger amazing surges of healthy, new growth...

            • by kpoole55 (1102793)

              Many old growth forests are now considered to be carbon sources rather than carbon sinks. New growth forests are just that, new growth sucking up carbon but old growth have reached an equilibrium and tip over in producing carbon if they have some disaster such as a forest fire or and attack of something like the pine beetle that kills trees. Dead trees rot and produce carbon as they are consumed in the rotting process.

          • Re:Ok (Score:5, Informative)

            by Muros (1167213) on Monday April 08, 2013 @12:09PM (#43392873)
            From the article:

            For crab lovers, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Carbon-absorbing crabs put all their energy into upgrading shells, not flesh — like a mansion without much furniture. So diners might be disappointed years from now when they crack open huge crabs and find little meat.

      • STD? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Das Auge (597142) on Monday April 08, 2013 @11:37AM (#43392531)
        I was thinking of something completely different...
  • Game over for the human race as we are eaten by the giant global warming crabs.

    • Wait, just to check - exactly what kind of crabs are we talking about here. ... runs screaming into the distance, scratching madly.

      • by redneckmother (1664119) on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:50AM (#43391975) Journal

        Wait, just to check - exactly what kind of crabs are we talking about here. ... runs screaming into the distance, scratching madly.

        That was my first impression, too.

        I was reminded of graffiti I saw above a urinal at a drive-in theatre in Amarillo, circa 1972:

        Please don't throw toothpicks in urinal. Texas crabs can pole vault.

    • by Squiddie (1942230) on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:38AM (#43391851)
      Giant Enemy Crabs are easy. Just flip them over and attack their weak point for massive damage.
  • by brainboyz (114458) on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:35AM (#43391807) Homepage

    City defense teams should be ready with butter...

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      For crab lovers, bigger doesnâ(TM)t necessarily mean better. Carbon-absorbing crabs put all their energy into upgrading shells, not flesh â" like a mansion without much furniture. So diners might be disappointed years from now when they crack open huge crabs and find little meat.

      I'm not sure why TFS links to page 2 of the article.

  • I, for one, enjoy large Alaskan King Crab legs on a barbeque. I will enjoy super-sized Alaska King Crab legs the size of my forearm in the near future.

  • Arte they really sure it's the carbon dioxyde, and not the radioactivity from all the nuclear power stations? Usually CO2 just suffocates stuff, it's the radiation that makes the critter bigger!
    • Re:Carbon dioxide? (Score:4, Informative)

      by mjr167 (2477430) on Monday April 08, 2013 @11:23AM (#43392339)

      CO2 suffocates humans in sufficient dosage. Plants, however, love it and crabs use the extra carbon to make their shells better. [whoi.edu]

      So yay for global warming!

    • Re:Carbon dioxide? (Score:4, Informative)

      by ByOhTek (1181381) on Monday April 08, 2013 @11:25AM (#43392365) Journal

      usually too much radiation just makes things sick, lethargic and dead.

      CO2 doesn't suffocate stuff, lack of oxygen, and CO will suffocate. Anyway, in the water, CO2 turns into carbonic acid, which becomes carbonates and bicarbonates, if I remember correctly.

      O2 binds to hemoglobin stronger than CO2, so with enough O2, CO2 isn't a problem, though it may cause discomfort since your body detects it's presence, rather than the lack of oxygen. CO however, binds to heme more strongly than O2, so it is an issue.

      • Yeah, but the stupid FA just said the crabs were fed 'carbon'. So we really don't know what happened.

        In the spirit of serendipity, I'm going to suggest that this was discovered when a confused research assistant dumped the charcoal briquets in the pail instead of putting them in the grill. Two days later and giant crabs have taken over the subdivision.

        Could be a reality show next year. Better plot line than some I've seen.

  • Giant crabs? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:37AM (#43391835)
    Mmmmmm crab cakes.....drooool
  • It's ok, we can attack their weak point for massive damage.
  • Count Me Confused (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:39AM (#43391861) Journal
    I've been crabbing in the Chesapeake and New Jersey for the past ~5 years once or twice a year using both pots and hand lines and haven't noticed any steady size increase to match the increase in carbon emissions. Not a lot of variance anyway when I hear the "daily biggest crab" winners at the outfit we go through (7.5" to 8.5"). You would think we would start hearing about 9" or 10" crabs if their size is increasing with carbon emissions. Anecdotal, I know but what I've seen first hand doesn't really line up with this.

    Also, I tried to track down the original article from the Post and it didn't sound like it lined up with this article:

    Under conditions with lower levels of carbon, two mud crabs polished off 20 oysters in six hours. But in the aquariums with higher levels of carbon, the mud crabs seemed confused.

    They went over to the oysters, but they didn’t eat as many — sometimes fewer than half of what other crabs ate under normal conditions. Dodd scratched his head. “Acidification may be confusing the crab,” he said. The situation, he concluded, “is more complicated than you’d be led to believe.”

    Ries said crabs might be getting loopy from all that carbon in their systems, depriving them of oxygen and putting them in a fog.

    They're right about the Chesapeake being in trouble though ... a growing "dead zone" coupled with overfishing. Man, in the past six years fishing trips on that body of water have gotten very sorry. We're now going up to Delaware Bay ... it's a shame, I've donated to Save the Chesapeake but people around here are stubbornly against the EPA or any government regulation. There goes those natural resources I guess.

    • by wbr1 (2538558)
      See the first page of the article. The summary link was wrong.
    • So the Chesapeake's dying from overfishing and your answer is to move on up to Delaware Bay. Hope your grandchildren appreciate the fine work you're doing for the planet.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        You really think the once or twice a year crabbing the GP partakes in is what is killing the Chesapeake?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Him alone? Of course not. Combined with the rest of the commercial and non commercial crabbers... ummm, yes? That's the fun thing about a public commons, since no one individual causes the problem, it's okay and rational for everyone to keep using up more!

          • by h4rr4r (612664) on Monday April 08, 2013 @11:12AM (#43392217)

            His share of the responsibility is likely very low.

            Shutdown the commercial operators and I bet the problem is solved. No one will do that though.

            This is like charging a homeowner 100x as much as a farmer for water, then blaming the homeowner watering his lawn for water shortages. If you actually want to fix the issue you go after the bigger fish.

            • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Monday April 08, 2013 @11:39AM (#43392545) Homepage Journal

              If you actually want to fix the issue you go after the bigger fish.

              They tried that with the groupers and found out that all the small ones were male, and then they turn into females when they get larger. It caused the population to crash for a while.

              Seafood is wildlife. It's only due to the size of the oceans that the species haven't been wiped out completely. If people had such a voracious appetite for wild venison, we'd have empty woods by now. I try to limit my seafood consumption to once a month or less, for that reason. I do take some fish oil for my heart, and I know that's bad for a few species, but I'm also testifying on a hemp legalization bill in a few days, in an attempt to fix that as well.

              Yes, we can grow Omega-3's with weeds, but our government imprisons people who do.

              • by h4rr4r (612664)

                I was not being literal. I meant go after the biggest consumers of the resource.

                • I was not being literal. I meant go after the biggest consumers of the resource.

                  I know - it's just ironic that people cry for the EPA or NOAA or whomever to save the menhadden fry in the Bay when the best alternative to overfishing them is illegal due to some completely reason-free legislation. I know, the CIA makes mint [youtube.com] on drug running, but the whole refer-madness excuses are complete bunk.

      • Re:Count Me Confused (Score:5, Interesting)

        by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday April 08, 2013 @11:02AM (#43392111) Journal

        So the Chesapeake's dying from overfishing and your answer is to move on up to Delaware Bay. Hope your grandchildren appreciate the fine work you're doing for the planet.

        Do you know what catch and release is? Those sharks and toadfish I'm landing with a rod and reel on Delaware Bay sure the hell aren't ending up on my plate. We might take a striper or two and maybe use some spots for bunkfish (bait) but it's nothing compared to what a commercial boat is doing [hubis.com]. Doesn't even register! I don't think I've ever even landed a croaker that was big enough to keep!

        When I charter a boat for a day at $500 (plus tip) and a fisherman takes me out instead of trying to commercially fish, it ends up being good for the bay. Thanks for accusing me of destroying our resources though, I'll add that to the list of why I don't talk to people about possible conservation strategies right next to being called a tree hugging hippie when I mention it at work.

        Next time you're on the bay walk up to any boat captain and ask him/her about overfishing on the bay. HINT: It's not the five guys who are up there one weekend a year to enjoy the sun and land a few fish. In fact, they will probably tell you that a steady stream of that kind of tourism will allow those fisherman income so they stop overfishing to pay for their boats and fuel!

        • by data2 (1382587)

          I don't know the slightest thing about Chesapeake bay, but numbers may be tricky.

          There was a study done on the Baltic sea, which concluded that private fishers caught more than half of the total fish extracted that year, something not previously being taken into account in the projections for quotas.

        • being called a tree hugging hippie when I mention it at work.

          It always annoys me when people seem to think that protecting the environment is the sole domain of the left. (Clarification: I'm talking about the people calling you a tree hugging hippie.) If you want to protect your business, you need to think long term. In the case of fishing, long term protection of your fishing stock does NOT include fishing the bay until there's no more life and then figuring out what to do. Yes, you might reduce how m

    • Yeah the problem is if our bodies of water die, we have a body of stagnant dead water. This creates. .. problems. A lot more than just "The air smells like shit all the time," Which it will.

      The only thing that's keeping the bay in tact these days is the localized diphasic timeline pairing it with a not-dead version of the bay from an alternate universe.

      • by Culture20 (968837)
        I would think keeping a bay in tact would require a manners lesson or two and a human/water translation dictionary.
    • by ISoldat53 (977164)
      I caught crabs in New Jersey once.
    • I've been crabbing in the Chesapeake and New Jersey for the past ~5 years once or twice a year using both pots and hand lines and haven't noticed any steady size increase to match the increase in carbon emissions. Not a lot of variance anyway when I hear the "daily biggest crab" winners at the outfit we go through (7.5" to 8.5"). You would think we would start hearing about 9" or 10" crabs if their size is increasing with carbon emissions. Anecdotal, I know but what I've seen first hand doesn't really line up with this.

      1-2 data points a year for five years isn't exactly a lot of data when you're talking about CO2 levels.

  • Bad link in summary (Score:5, Informative)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:41AM (#43391879)
    The link points to page two of the article. For those that wonder why it started in the middle here is the proper link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/2013/04/07/a0c29f48-972f-11e2-b68f-dc5c4b47e519_story.html [washingtonpost.com]
  • Next Study.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheCarp (96830) <sjc AT carpanet DOT net> on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:44AM (#43391917) Homepage

    Ok so they grow faster, nice. They grow bigger? Awesome.

    How about flavor? Are they more tasty when they grow bigger and faster? Why is nobody asking the important questions?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ok so they grow faster, nice. They grow bigger? Awesome.

      How about flavor? Are they more tasty when they grow bigger and faster? Why is nobody asking the important questions?

      Because they're answered in TFA.

      The increase in carbon allows them to grow faster simply because they have more carbon to pump into bigger/harder shells (i.e. they molt more often).

      The tastey/meaty bits aren't growing faster, leaving big strong shells filled with very little meat.

    • by Convector (897502)

      I'm sorry, this is AMERICA. Where we care about portion sizes, not flavor.

  • by Prime Mover (149173) on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:45AM (#43391927)

    I didn't just RTFHeadline but read the whole story and nowhere does it mention CO2 influencing the size of crab growth. In fact, quite the opposite, the article says that crabs don't feed as well under higher CO2. The article barely mentions CO2 and is really about conservation efforts of oysters and crabs.

  • Another histrionic headline about global warming. Here's the actual report [unc.edu], which documents the change in calcification of a variety of marine animals under increasing levels of CO2 dissolved in the water. Nothing in there at all about "giant crabs". Critters with hard shells -- crabs, lobsters, etc. -- will develop thicker shells as you increase the levels of CO2. News at 11.
    • No problem . . . Bloomberg will just outlaw large crab portions. It will help the poor people from eating too much, or something like that.

      End of problem. Now about that foot long hot dog that you are eating . . . nine inches should be the limit . . .

      • End of problem. Now about that foot long hot dog that you are eating . . . nine inches should be the limit . . .

        First the TSA get's all up in my junk with their body scanners, and now you're telling my wife what she can and can't do to my privates? That's it, I'm moving to Canada. It may be lame there, but at least my privates will be protected.

  • The Crab people will rise up and take over the Earth. Time to buy a Prius. Oh, wait, the lithium ion batteries create more carbon from manufacturing them.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tV5wmDhzgY8 [youtube.com]

    Doh!!

  • I propose to include these larger crabs in the climate models. Larger crabs --> more carbon fixed (or eaten) --> less CO2 --> less global warming.
  • by Walking The Walk (1003312) on Monday April 08, 2013 @10:53AM (#43392003)
    Not sure why the link goes to the second page of the article, but on the first page they explain that blue crabs grow their shells faster in water with more carbon. (They note that bigger shells doesn't translate to more meat.) On the second page, they talk about the fact that mud crabs seem confused in water polluted with carbon, and that some mud crabs only ate half as much as in water with less carbon. Relevant quotes from the article:

    Higher levels of carbon in the ocean are causing oysters to grow slower, and their predators — such as blue crabs — to grow faster

    versus

    Under conditions with lower levels of carbon, two mud crabs polished off 20 oysters in six hours. But in the aquariums with higher levels of carbon, the mud crabs seemed confused. They went over to the oysters, but they didn’t eat as many — sometimes fewer than half of what other crabs ate under normal conditions.

  • For crab lovers, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. Carbon-absorbing crabs put all their energy into upgrading shells, not flesh — like a mansion without much furniture. So diners might be disappointed years from now when they crack open huge crabs and find little meat.
  • I thought the carbonated water was supposed to eat their shells and kill them dead. I guess the giant crabs and sea scorpions of the Dino ages had the same aquasphere...
    • The article did mention that the "bigger" is going into shells, not meat. So perhaps, if the water is dissolving their shells, the bigger shells is a protection mechanism. Get a bigger shell so it will take longer before being eaten away by the water. Crabs who don't have the thicker shells will have them dissolved and will die out.

  • Before jumping at a "post hoc, ergo propter hoc" fallacy, how have other possible causes been eliminated?

    There are a lot of new nasties in agricultural- and municipal wastewaters the mudbugs like living in.

    Various growth hormones, for one, might be expected to have some effect, as might antibiotics and other drugs. For all we know, BPA might be good for crustaceans.

  • by dragon-file (2241656) on Monday April 08, 2013 @11:05AM (#43392139)
    Oh now I remember. This happened in a Dr. Who episode.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gridlock_%28Doctor_Who%29

  • Other crustaceans too? I'd love me some giant shrimp or lobster!
  • by turkeyfish (950384) on Monday April 08, 2013 @11:14AM (#43392229)

    The title is a total misreading of the results and yet one more example of a journalist, who is so incapable of understanding science that they get it completely bass akward.

    Crabs are getting any bigger or "super-sized" rather ocean acidification confuses crab foraging behavior. Consequently, in Chesapeake Bay, where there are efforts to conserve oysters and thus clean the bay and increase oyster production, more oysters means more crabs under high carbon regimes.

    The moral of the story is not that global warming will somehow give us giant crabs, but rather that with ocean acidification, oysters and those who cultivate them may be at a disadvantage because it takes spat much longer to grow, even though they obtain a slight advantage in that their crab predators can be become confused with increasing ocean acidification.

    None of this is particular good news, since there is a upper limit as to how much extra carbon dioxide both oysters and crabs can tolerate and still produce their shells. Most don't realize it, but this problem is also true for fish, who must calcify their bones in order to grow and mature. With significant ocean acidification that means less and less fish, which is not good for humans, since we obtain about 50% of our protein from the ocean. The problem with ocean acidification is that unlike carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, where the cycle turns over about once every thirty years, natural pH changes needed to counteract human induced pH lowering only takes place over 100,000's or millions of years. So once we get there, we are more or less permanently there. Not to bright a prospect for mankind.

  • Sig Hansen has to replace the Northwestern with an Arleigh Burke class destroyer.

    • Sig Hansen has to replace the Northwestern with an Arleigh Burke class destroyer.

      Let's be realistic here...While I don't wish harm on any of them, I doubt any of the Captains from Deadliest Catch are going to make it to 2020. You can only smoke 4 packs a day for so many years before your body just quits. The 40 hours working with 4 hours of sleep isn't good for them either.

  • if you had, you would see this is , sadly, all to typical of mainstream journalism - totally un warranted sensationalizim of a modest, very modest, scientific finding.
    The idea that the paper in geology
    http://www.unc.edu/~jries/Ries_et_al_09_Geology_Mixed_Responses_to_Ocean_Acidification_full.pdf [unc.edu]
    has anyting to do with supersized blue crabs is total BS

    really sad: don't any of you people bother to read ???
    don't any of you people bother to check sources >??????

    oh, wait, this is slashdot

  • This was a Doctor Who story!

  • I'm going to restore the balance to the for...I mean carbon table by hitting up Joe's Crab Shack.

  • why not zoidberg?

    • by Yakasha (42321)

      why not zoidberg?

      Ack I was too busy making Red Lobster jokes to remember Zoidberg!
      Nobody remembers Zoidberg.

  • "This means that as greenhouse gas emissions grow, so will these crustaceans."

    The problem with this scenario is that carbon emissions in the U.S. have gone down, not up.

  • by UltraZelda64 (2309504) on Monday April 08, 2013 @01:08PM (#43393553)

    So, it must not have been a mythical creature after all... this means that there may really have been some of these things in ancient Japanese history! Now I want to take a vacation and find one of these things, to flip it over onto its back and attack its weak point for MASSIVE DAMAGE.

  • No I did not read the article; yes I know what was meant by "crabs." Now get off my lawn!

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