Elevated CO2 enhances otolith growth in young fish

A large fraction of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere by human activity enters the sea, causing ocean acidification. We show that otoliths (aragonite ear bones) of young fish grown under high CO2 (low pH) conditions are larger than normal, contrary to expectation. We hypothesize that CO2 moves freely through the epithelium around the otoliths in young fish, accelerating otolith growth while the local pH is controlled. This is the converse of the effect commonly reported for structural biominerals.

Checkley, D. M., Dickson, A. D., Takahashi, M., Radich, J. A., Eisenkolb, N. & Asch, R., 2009. Elevated CO2 Enhances Otolith Growth in Young Fish. Science 324(5935):1683. Article (subscription required).

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