"Slippersnails, olives, periwinkles, tulips - thousands of species of sea snails live in saltwater off the Lowcountry, uncounted millions of creatures.
If they all were wiped out by an ecological catastrophe it would take out the 'base line' food of the marine food chain, the food eaten by foraging fish that in turn are eaten by larger fish. It would starve the ocean, the economies and the people who depend on it.
That's not a dire prediction linked to climate change. It's already starting to happen as the ocean gets more acidic. And for the Lowcountry, ocean acidification might not even be the real threat. It might be what scientists call the one-two punch of acidification and low oxygen in the estuaries, the nursery for the shellfish we eat - shrimp, oysters, clams.
Low oxygen kills marine life, too. That extra die-off feeds more acid into the water. The culprits for the massive loads of acid and low oxygen now found in the water are fossil fuel emissions, nutrients and other pollutants running off the land. "