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: Super Bowl athletes are scientists at work

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Galaxy dust findings confound view of early Universe

10 hours ago

What was the Universe like at the beginning of time? How did the Universe come to be the way it is today?—big questions and huge attention paid when scientists attempt answers. So was the early-universe ...

Recommended for you

Super Bowl athletes are scientists at work

Jan 30, 2015

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman gets called a lot of things. He calls himself the greatest cornerback in the NFL (and Seattle fans tend to agree). Sportswriters and some other players call him ...

Reintegrating extremist into society

Jan 30, 2015

The UK government's increasingly punitive response to those involved in terrorism risks undermining efforts to successfully reintegrate former extremists, according to research by the University of St Andrews.

Strategies to enhance intelligence analysis

Jan 30, 2015

If you've ever watched a thriller about undercover agents, you probably have the impression that intelligence officers are models of objectivity, pragmatism and sharp, unbiased thinking. However, in reality ...

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.