Acidic Oceans Could Confuse Fish: Study

Global warming hiking up oceanic acidity levels
By Gabriel Winant,  Newser User
Posted Feb 3, 2009 9:00 AM CST
Former Vice President Al Gore points at a screen showing the new Google Earth 5.0, which explores the ocean, at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Monday, Feb. 2, 2009.    (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
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(Newser) – Climate change could be a disaster for marine life, a new study finds. As the atmosphere fills with CO2, the ocean absorbs it, and becomes more acidic, Wired reports, and clownfish, which navigate by scent, lose their ability to do so in water as acidic as the ocean is expected to become.

In the lab, clownfish had no problem following scent as usual in water with a pH of 8.15, the ocean’s standard. At the more-acidic 7.8, behavior became erratic, and at 7.6 they stopped following scents entirely. “It is possible that other species may be affected,” one researcher says. And hopes for adaptation are low: Acidity is probably changing too fast for evolution to keep up.