The orange clown fish made popular by the Pixar animated film ‘Finding Nemo’ could soon find themselves under a more increased threat from predators as the rising acidity in the ocean causes the baby fish to lose their hearing.
Scientists have discovered a link between high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the increased acidity in the water which causes marine creatures difficulty when it comes to forming calcium-containing shells.
Researchers found that baby orange clown fish could not detect underwater noises when the carbon dioxide levels in their tank were pushed to certain levels. According to the results the clown fish and many others could go deaf by the middle of the century when the acidic levels are expected to reach the point where the abilities of a fish’s hearing are greatly reduced.
“What we have done here is put today’s fish in tomorrow’s environment, and the effects are potentially devastating,” said Steve Simpson from the University of Bristol.
“We designed a totally new kind of experimental choice chamber that allowed us to play coral reef noise through an underwater speaker to fish in the lab and watch how they responded…fish reared in today’s conditions swam away from the predator noise, but those reared in the carbon-dioxide conditions of 2050 and 2100 showed no response.”
It is estimated that since the start of the industrial revolution the sea has absorbed about 142 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.
“What we don’t know is whether, in the next few generations, fish can adapt and tolerate ocean acidification…This is a one-way experiment on a global scale, predicting the outcomes and interactions is a major challenge for this scientific community.” Concluded Dr Simpson.