Fish Guts Explain Marine Carbon Cycle Mystery

New research reveals the major influence of fish on maintaining the delicate pH balance of our oceans, vital for the health of coral reefs and other marine life.

The discovery, made by a team of scientists from the UK, US and Canada, could help solve a mystery that has puzzled marine chemists for decades. Published 16 January 2009 in Science, the study provides new insights into the marine carbon cycle, which is undergoing rapid change as a result of global CO2 emissions.



Until now, scientists have believed that the oceans’ calcium carbonate, which dissolves to make seawater alkaline, came from the external ‘skeletons’ of microscopic marine plankton. This study estimates that three to 15 per cent of marine calcium carbonate is in fact produced by fish in their intestines and then excreted. This is a conservative estimate and the team believes it has the potential to be three times higher.

Fish are therefore responsible for contributing a major but previously unrecognised portion of the inorganic carbon that maintains the ocean’s acidity balance. The researchers predict that future increases in sea temperature and rising CO2 will cause fish to produce even more calcium carbonate.

Science Daily, 15 January 2009. Full article.

1 Response to “Fish Guts Explain Marine Carbon Cycle Mystery”



  1. 1 Blogging About Biology | Fish: Keeping the Balance of Life Trackback on 28 October 2009 at 20:17

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