Swimmer’s ear

Acidity is supposed to make building calcium bones more difficult, scientists thought. That’s why researchers were surprised to find the opposite to be true for young fish raised in more acid waters.

In this week’s Science, they report their results as yet another unexpected consequence of climate change. The authors, led by David Checkley at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, kept white sea bass eggs and larvae under varying carbon dioxide concentrations. The fishes’ otoliths, ear bones that help them orient and accelerate, were larger in those raised under higher carbon dioxide conditions. Today, rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are causing the ocean to acidify as excess gas dissolves in marine waters.

Jessica Leber, Conservation Magazine, 25 June 2009. Full article.

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