It almost sounds like a premise for the next SyFy movie, as timid fish go from prey to predators. A recent report has found ocean acidification is changing the behavior of some fish on a remote South Pacific reef as some fish are now more fearless thanks to an increased CO2 levels. The research team have noted some fish are now attracted to the smell of their predators and are not afraid of approaching them.
Conducted in an isolated area off the coast Papua New Guinea, the researchers studied fish in their natural habitat — that also happened to be more acidic due to natural carbon dioxide seeping from the ocean bed, providing an ideal area to see how organisms respond to the extent of ocean acidification forecast for the next 50 to 80 years.
“They are more active and display riskier behaviors, venturing further away from shelter, which makes them even more vulnerable to predators,” Professor Philip Munday, from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, told Reuters on Monday. “We’ve found fish living in those conditions similar to what we predict in the second half of the century. Their behaviour is fundamentally altered and impaired such that we see they’ve become attracted to odours they’d normally avoid,” Munday said.
The team noted the study is significant because it shows that fish take their time adjusting within a lifetime to higher CO2 levels. These changes to behavior is going to have an impact down the food chain and how the fragile balance of the reefs are impacted in many ways due to ocean acidification.
[via Globe and Mail, Image via Reuters]