Ocean acidification may directly harm fish: study

Dec 13, 2011
SBU marine science researchers release study suggesting ocean acidification may directly harm fish
Silverside embryos shortly before hatch. Credit: Hannes Baumann

(PhysOrg.com) -- Fossil fuel combustion, and with it the release of heat-trapping carbon dioxide (CO2), is still growing globally. Beyond climate change, this is also causing the world’s “other CO2 problem,” ocean acidification, i.e., the formation of carbonic acid when CO2 from the atmosphere enters seawater. Studies have already demonstrated a multitude of negative effects of elevated CO2 conditions for many groups of marine organisms such as corals, plankton, shellfish and sea urchins. To date, scientists have assumed marine fish were immune to ocean acidification.

However, in a new article published in the December 11, 2011, online edition of the journal Nature Climate Change, researchers from Stony Brook University demonstrate that “the fish are okay” belief ignores an important knowledge gap – the possible effects of CO2 during the early development of fish eggs and larvae. Co-authors of the study, Christopher Gobler and Hannes Baumann, are professors at the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (SoMAS) and represent one of several international teams working on closing this gap. 

Their present study is the first to show that elevated CO2 levels significantly decreased survival and growth rates in eggs and larvae of a . The researchers reared newly fertilized eggs of a common estuarine fish, the inland silverside (Menidia beryllina), under different CO2 levels predicted for future oceans (current: ~400 ppm, mid-century: ~600 ppm, end-of-century: ~1,000 ppm) and found that egg and larval stages of these fish were highly sensitive to CO2. On average, survival rates until one week post-hatch declined by over 70% under elevated (1,000 ppm) compared to current day CO2 conditions. In addition, surviving larvae were 18% smaller in the high than in the low CO2 group.  The experiment was fully replicated and repeated five separate times, each revealing the same pattern.

“We knew from the study of other ocean animals, such as scallops and clams, that earliest life stages such as larvae are most sensitive to CO2 and thus targeted the same life stage during our investigation of fish,” said Professor Gobler. The study thus joins a growing body of evidence, suggesting that fish will both directly and indirectly be affected by , which also includes the potential for decreasingly productive commercial fish stocks.  Brad Warren, Science Director of Sustainable Fisheries Partnerships stated: “This study is a shot across the bow and shows that some important fish stocks may be eroded by high CO2 levels. And keep in mind, as estuarine fish, inland silversides are likely to be adapted to higher levels of CO2 than many fish found in the open ocean, where chemistry is much more stable. This suggests that many commercially harvested marine may be vulnerable too. Pelagic spawners, such as albacore, bigeye, yellowfin, and bluefin tuna, whose larvae are not adapted to acidified waters, could be particularly vulnerable.”

However, the authors also caution that our understanding is still too limited for generalizations, since fish are a highly diverse group of animals, and species will likely react differently to increasing CO2 levels.

Dr. Baumann stated, “In light of the broad implications of our findings, we believe that now is the time to comprehensively investigate fish early-life CO2 sensitivity, not just in one but in a wide range of species. We also have to address the general potential of marine organisms to adapt to the levels projected for future oceans.”

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More information: Baumann, H., et al. Reduced early-life growth and survival in a fish in direct response to increased carbon dioxide. Nature Climate Change. DOI: 10.1038/CLIMATE 1291

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Nanobanano
3.7 / 5 (3) Dec 13, 2011
The researchers reared newly fertilized eggs of a common estuarine fish, the inland silverside (Menidia beryllina), under different CO2 levels predicted for future oceans (current: ~400 ppm, mid-century: ~600 ppm, end-of-century: ~1,000 ppm) and found that egg and larval stages of these fish were highly sensitive to CO2.


Comes to a loss of 75.5% of biomass in the first generation at 1000PPM.

Maybe the more adapted ones will survive the gradual increase to reproduce more efficiently later, but...

You realize this is going to be a mass extinction event? Regardless of fish eggs...

The keeling curve's rate of net increase actually lags behind the population curve by a good 15 to 20 years, due to the age of driving and the age of people typically get a real, full time production job (where they are presumably using a lot of energy and making pollution.)

The present day CO2 curve reflects the births from no later than 1990 to 1995.
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2011
And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;

And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.

And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;

And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.

===

Could it be that this is simply a metaphor for man made pollution?

If a third of the fish died, then the fishing industry would be non-existing, hence those fleets "destroyed".
wiyosaya
1 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2011
IMHO, it is rather unfortunate that in at least some instances, biblical passages are ambiguous as to their interpretation.

Here's a passage for condsideration: "And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done."

Personally, I think this is interesting in what it does not say. It does not say that god will prevent humanity from smiting every living thing...
tpb
3 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2011
Since fish have survived in the past when CO2 was ten times higher than now, I expect they will have no problem adapting within a few generations.
There was a previous article about shellfish or corals, I don't remember which, but within a few generations they were thriving.
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2011
Wiyosaya:

It gets better.

Back up and read the "other" version of the Noachian Covenant, from the previous chapter. Everyone always forgets that one.

8,21,
I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.

22While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

This passage totally contradicts all of Christian Eschatology, especially the very book of Revelation I just quoted.

Revelation (and also Peter and Jude) says the Earth is going to burn up. That would seem to require "cold" ceasing, no?

And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire.

And men were scorched with great heat...

Yeah, how an that be the same God, since he supposedly promised not to do that?
Howhot
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 13, 2011
Interesting quotes Nano; but if your really want to see the future, there is no better reading than "Soylent Green" which interestingly enough begins with acidification of oceans from excess CO2. Rightwingers love it because it stars gunlovin "Charlton Heston". Its kind of a futuristic movie of AGW unchecked to the point where food is so scares, people turn to a form of industrial cannibalism.

When people are rioting in the streets the police (Heston is one) warn the protesters, "The Scoops are Coming!" not knowing that the people scooped up where on the way to become soylent green. Heston is doing riot control from all of the food shortages. Everything is dry and dead with no water or rain and is a perfect backdrop to the droughts of Texas and Mexico.
So the government/industry "Soylent" has come up with a food source for the starving masses; Soylent Green.

Anyway I really recommend getting this movie or book. It really is a bit of classic futurism projected right at our time
Ojorf
3 / 5 (2) Dec 14, 2011
Since fish have survived in the past when CO2 was ten times higher than now, I expect they will have no problem adapting within a few generations.


Sure, you are correct, the same applies to trees, flowers, grasses, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects etc. etc etc. None of those taxa will go totally extinct almost irrespective of what we do to the climate, in the long term they will survive and recover.
That is totally missing the point though, it's not only WHAT survives, but HOW MANY. An ecosystem collapse would reduce the biomass carrying capacity, very bad news for us. Just imagine agriculture taking a 50% knock in production for a few decades.

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