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Study: rising levels of CO2 in oceans affect fishes’ brains, threatening survival

Fish swim near coral reefs.

Fish swim near coral reefs.

Increasing levels of Carbon dioxid (CO2) in the oceans have impact on fishes’ brains and their nervous systems, affecting their ability to evade predators, according to new research, Discovery News reported.

Prof. Phillip Munday in the Australian Research Council’s Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and his colleagues had been testing the performance of baby coral fish in sea water containing higher levels of dissolved CO2.

They found that high CO2 levels in water disrupt a key brain receptor in fish, causing changes in their behavior and sensory abilities.

“Our early work showed that the sense of smell of baby fish was harmed by higher CO2 in the water, meaning they found it harder to locate a reef to settle on or detect the warning smell of a predator fish,” said Munday. The fishes’ sense of hearing and direction were also affected.

While the predators were somewhat affected, the baby fish suffered much higher rates of attrition.

“We’ve found that elevated CO2 in the oceans can directly interfere with fish neurotransmitter functions, which poses a direct and previously unknown threat to sea life,” said Munday.

The study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Jan 15.

Updated : 2021-10-16 17:46 GMT+08:00