Acidified oceans put baby fish at risk

New research from the University of Adelaide, in Southern Australia, says baby fish will find it harder to reach secure shelters in future acidified

In their report published on April 12 in the journal Scientific Reports the researchers described how barramundi (Asian sea bass) larvae in high carbon dioxide conditions predicted for the turn of the century turn away from ocean noises they would normally be attracted to. Instead these larvae are attracted to other noises produced by the wrong sort of habitats and/or “white noise.”

The project leader, Professor Ivan Nagelkerken of Adelaide’s Environment Institute, notes that oceans harbor many noisy animals including snapping shrimps and whales and dolphins. Oceanic larvae from quite a few species of fish and invertebrates listen to sounds of coastal ecosystems, Nagelkerken said. They use these sounds to guide them from open ocean, where they hatch, to shelter in shallow waters, where they can spend their juvenile and adult lives.

“Unfortunately, the CO2 that humans are pumping into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels gets absorbed by the ocean and causes acidification, and this causes changes to the behavior of many marine animals,” he said.