Certain species show potential resistance to acidic oceans: study

A recent study published in the journal Global Change Biology studies the effect of ocean acidification on the larvae of cobia, pelagic spawners that are mainly found in the tropical waters. This is the first study of its kind.

It was conducted by researchers Sean Bignami, Su Sponaugle and Robert Cowen.

For the study, researchers reared cobia in tanks that had different levels of CO2 saturation. They then examined the effect on growth, development, otolith formation, swimming ability and activity level when the cobias were in their larval stage.

The researchers noticed that the cobias showed resistance towards acidification in terms of growth, development and activity. But in case of extreme acidification, the size of the larvae reduced their development by 2-3 days.  The otolith size increased with mild acidification.

“The larval period is a critical stage in the marine fish lifecycle and the ability of cobia larvae to withstand ‘business-as-usual’ scenarios of ocean acidification provides an optimistic outlook for this species. However, research on this topic is still limited and if our findings on otolith formation are any indicator, then these fish are not entirely resistant to acidification,” Bignami, a Marine Biology and Fisheries PhD candidate at UM said in a press statement.

Cobia (Rachycentron Canadum) are also known as crabeaters and black salmon. They grow to a maximum length of 2 meters. They mostly feed on squid, crab and other fish. In the hope for hunting their food, they are seen following bigger animals such as turtles, manta rays and sharks. They get highly mobile as they mature.

Researchers feels that additional study is required in order to find ways to mitigate the current effect on marine life.

Benita Matilda, Science World Report, 20 April 2013. Article.

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