On a clear, crisp day in the tiny West Marin town of Marshall, clusters of visitors to the Hog Island Oyster Company feasted on raw oysters with an elaborate array of fixings. Barbecues were lined with shellfish as picnicking diners dripped exotic vinegars and other sauces onto the shells.
Not far away, in a rustic wooden shed tucked among the bubbling oyster tanks, scientist Tessa Hill stared into a computer screen – the technological implement standing in contrast to the quiet bay surroundings.
“We’re helping the oyster company monitor the water that’s flowing over these oysters,” Hill said, gesturing to a set of plastic pipes carrying water from the nearby Tomales Bay into the company’s gurgling tanks.
A staff researcher at the nearby Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory, Hill has been studying the effects of a marine condition known as “ocean acidification” and its impact on shellfish such as oysters. The phenomenon is the result of carbon dioxide pollution accumulating in the ocean, reducing the PH balance, and causing a rise in acid.
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