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Rising carbon dioxide in water could lead to drunk fish

File photo courtesy: Wikipedia

File photo courtesy: Wikipedia

Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Thursday, February 4, 2016, 6:38 PM - Rising levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the water could lead fish to eventually become 'intoxicated', a new study suggests.

The new research - published in the journal Nature - suggests that by 2100, CO2 concentrations in some parts of the ocean will be 10 times greater than current levels.

Animals living in those waters will appear drunk, but will actually be suffering from a condition called 'hypercapnia', which arises following a build-up of CO2 in the blood.

"Essentially, the fish become lost at sea," Ben McNeil, a climate scientist at University of New South Wales and lead author of the paper, said in a statement.

"The carbon dioxide affects their brains and they lose their sense of direction and ability to find their way home. They don’t even know where their predators are."

Ocean hypercapnia is predicted to occur in saltwater fish when atmospheric CO2 concentrations exceed 650 parts per million.

“If atmospheric carbon dioxide pollution continues to rise, fish and other marine creatures in CO2 hotpots in the Southern, Pacific and North Atlantic oceans will experience episodes of hypercapnia by the middle of this century – much sooner than had been predicted, and with more damaging effects than thought," McNeil added.

Rising levels of CO2 in the ocean and the atmosphere contribute to climate change. When CO2 levels rise in the water, it is also referred to as ocean acidification.


When scientists refer to 'climate change', they're talking about a change in climatic norms.

In other words, warm climates could get even warmer and drier, or they could get colder and wetter.

While this occurs naturally, scientists say humans play a role as well.

Here's an explanation from The Weather Network's Chris St. Clair.

Source: University of NSW 

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