Oceans’ growing carbon dioxide levels may threaten coral reef fish

Study finds exposure to high levels of the greenhouse gas may cause the fish to swim toward the smell of predators.

The ocean’s rising carbon dioxide levels may cause many coral reef fish to swim toward the smell of predators rather than away from them — and thus toward likely death, marine ecologists said Tuesday.

The greenhouse gas’ ability to alter fish behavior for the worse points to an “unexpected potential impact of elevated carbon dioxide in the oceans,” said Philip Munday, a marine ecologist at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia.

Much study has been done on the effects of ocean acidification on coral and shelled animals, but little on how the effects would manifest in other forms of marine life, said Munday, who led the study published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “What we wanted to find out was how it affects those that don’t have a skeleton on their outside.”

Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times, 6 July 2010. Full article.

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