Fish on acid: Hagfish cope with high levels of CO2

Apr 05, 2006

The Pacific Hagfish is a strange animal: it feeds by gnawing its way into a carcass and staying inside to feed for up to 3 days. Scientists at the University of British Columbia (Canada) believe the Hagfish’s gruesome method of feeding may cause the stagnant water inside the carcass to become acidic from the build up of CO2 produced by the fish, which could explain why the fish is able to cope with environmental conditions of up to 7% CO2 (350 × that found in normal air).

Dan Baker is presenting his latest findings at the Society for Experimental Biology Annual Meeting on Wednesday 5th April.

“Our results are exciting because it turns out that Hagfish can not only regulate their acid-base balance, but that they have a greater capacity for rapid pH compensation than any marine or fresh water fish studied to date”, explains Baker.

Just as cold-blooded animals have an equal body temperature to their surrounding environment, the Hagfish has the same concentration of salt in its blood as the surrounding seawater. This trait previously led scientists to believe that these fish (known as osmoconformers) could only poorly regulate their pH.

The scientists next want to find the mechanisms by which they do this, and if prolonged exposure to high levels of CO2 causes any long term effects.

Source: Society for Experimental Biology

Explore further: Senate, House look to update Bush-era education law

Related Stories

Solar Impulse 2 pilot becomes aviation legend

7 hours ago

At 62 years of age, Swiss Solar Impulse 2 pilot Andre Borschberg has made aviation history with a record breaking solo flight across the Pacific that he has called "an interior journey".

Facegloria: Facebook for Brazil's Evangelicals

7 hours ago

Fluffy clouds waft across a blue sky as you log in and while you chat with friends, Gospel music rings out: welcome to Facegloria, the social network for Brazilian Evangelicals.

Mexico City proposes regulations for Uber

7 hours ago

Mexico City is proposing regulations that would allow Uber and other smartphone-based ride-sharing apps to operate, while requiring drivers and cars to be registered, the city's Office of Legal and Legislative Studies said ...

Researchers discover new mechanism of DNA repair

21 hours ago

The DNA molecule is chemically unstable giving rise to DNA lesions of different nature. That is why DNA damage detection, signaling and repair, collectively known as the DNA damage response, are needed.

Recommended for you

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.