Rising ocean acidity levels affecting sea-life sense of smell (text and audio)

Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Australian Institute of Marine Science say the acidic sea water is starting to disrupt the ocean’s food chain, damaging sea-life’s sense of smell – making it hard for fish to sniff out the predators they need to avoid and the prey they want to catch. VoR’s Nima Green spoke to Danielle Dixson, one of the biologists who carried out the study.

Rising carbon dioxide levels are making the planet’s oceans more acidic. According to a new study – by the end of the century, the ocean’s PH will have dropped from 8.14 to 7.8.

Fish under ocean acidification conditions show an inability to learn, their brain lateralisation is disrupted, and their vision is disrupted slightly, says Dixson.

“All these cognitive effects are where we are seeing a huge impact of ocean acidification on fishes.”

“You can see that the fish treated in higher CO2 spend more time away from their habitat or less time hiding in their coral. They venture farther away, they are more aggressive.”

“The hard thing about ocean acidification and this kind of research is it’s happening all in future. So it is really hard to predict what will happen to an entire eco system a hundred years down the line. But these effects we are showing have very small error in them. So almost all of the fish are behaving in the same way, which means it is affecting a lot of fish,” Dixson told VoR.

Ocean acidification didn’t get a lot of press until recently, Dixson says, but it seems that that its effects could be just as bad, if not worse for the marine community than global warming.

“Global warming has a potential damage of fish moving southward in the Australian region as the water becomes warmer.

“Ocean acidification can be affecting broadly behavior as well as pretty much anything with a shell or reef building corals because they dissolve in acid.”

Nima Green, Voice of Russia UK, 15 April 2014. Article and audio.


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