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Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide reacts with seawater to produce carbonic acid. This raises surrounding acidity levels and lowers carbonate ion levels, making it harder for oysters and other shellfish to produce the calcium carbonate needed to form their shells.
A number of factors have contributed to the decline in the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster population, including over-harvesting, disease (like MSX and Dermo), sedimentation and poor water quality.
Oysters prefer brackish and salty water. A salinity range between 10-28 parts per thousand (ppt) provides the best conditions for oysters. Oysters can die if salinity drops below 5 ppt for extended periods of time.