Ocean acidity 'turning fish deaf'

The headline above is the dishonest original. What actually happened was that the unfortunate fish were artificially reared in a tank that was pumped full of CO2. And that did harm them.

Any proposal that the experiment models any real-world probablity, however, is absurd. If the oceans really DID warm, they would outgas CO2, thus REDUCING acidity (CO2 plus water gives carbonic acid). If you doubt that warmer water holds less CO2, just open a can of coke warm instead of cold. You will be showered with CO2-bearing froth

Ocean acidification caused by fossil fuel emissions may be turning fish deaf. Clownfish reared in seawater acidified by carbon dioxide grow up with impaired hearing, a study has found.

This could have "devastating" consequences for the colourful star of the 2003 animated movie Finding Nemo, say scientists. Not only would it leave the coral reef fish vulnerable to predators, but it could impact on their early development and survival.

For the experiment, researchers reared newly hatched clownfish in water with different levels of acidity. After 17 to 20 days, the juvenile fish had their hearing tested by being played the sounds of a predator-rich coral reef.

"We kept some of the baby clownfish in today's conditions, bubbling in air, and then had three other treatments where we added extra CO2 based on the predictions from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for 2050 and 2100," said Dr Steve Simpson, from the University of Bristol.

"We designed a totally new kind of experimental choice chamber that allowed us to play 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 CO2 conditions of 2050 and 2100 showed no response."

The findings were published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.


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