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Fish on Acid

April 29, 2014

Fish in acidified waters exhibit strange and often reckless behaviors.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Fish behaving strangely. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Juvenile fishes from a carbon dioxide seep, such as damselfishes (pictured above), were less able to detect predator odor than fishes from a control coral reef. (Danielle Di

Juvenile damselfishes were less able to detect predator odor than fishes from a control coral reef. (Danielle Dixson)

Acidifying ocean waters, driven by climate change, may cause bizarre, self-destructive behavior in some fish. This according to a new report by Georgia Tech marine biologist Danielle Dixson. Her team collected fish from a naturally acidic reef in Papua New Guinea. She says most fish avoid waters that predators recently swam in. But these fish did the opposite.

DANIELLE DIXSON (Georgia Institute of Technology):

They were attracted to the predator almost 100 percent of the time. So they chose to spend their time in the water that contained the predator odor, as opposed to the offshore water that had no predator odor in it.

HIRSHON:
Fish in acidic waters also venture further from safety, and re-emerge more quickly after they do hide. Dixson notes that climate models predict that by the year 2100, the entire ocean may become as acidic as this reef. This may make some fish a danger to themselves. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.