Now I’ve heard everything

From the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science

Ocean acidification as a hearing aid for fish?

Study shows that effects of changing ocean pH may result in increase in the hearing sensitivity of fish

MIAMI – April 18, 2013 – Ocean acidification, which occurs as CO2 is absorbed by the world’s oceans, is known to negatively impact a wide variety of marine animals ranging from massive corals to microscopic plankton. However, there is much less information about how fish may be impacted by acidification, should carbon emissions continue to rise as a result of human activities.

In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science researcher Sean Bignami, along with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists Ian Enochs, Derek Manzello, and UM Professors Su Sponaugle and Robert Cowen, report stunning new insight into the potential effects of acidification on the sensory function of larval cobia (Rachycentron canandum). Cobia are large tropical fish that are highly mobile as they mature and are popular among recreational anglers.

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VIDEO: In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Miami researcher Sean Bignami, along with NOAA scientists Ian Enochs, Derek Manzello, and UM professors Su Sponaugle and Robert Cowen, report stunning new insight into the potential effects of acidification on the sensory function of larval cobia. The team was the first to utilize 3-D X-rays (micro-CT scans) similar to what a patient might receive at a hospital, to determine that fish raised in low-pH seawater, simulating future conditions, have larger and more dense otoliths (ear stones) than those from higher-pH seawater. Otoliths are distinct calcium carbonate structures within the inner ear of fishes that are used for hearing and balance. The changes resulted in up to a 58 percent increase in otolith mass, and when tested in a mathematical model of otolith function, showed a potential increase in hearing sensitivity and up to a 50 percent increase in hearing range. These findings indicate the potential for significant impact on a key sensory system in fish, with important implications for larval fish recruitment and fisheries replenishment.

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Bignami and the team utilized 3D X-rays (micro-CT scans) similar to what a patient might receive at a hospital to determine that fish raised in low-pH seawater, simulating future conditions, have larger and more dense otoliths (ear stones) than those from higher-pH seawater. Otoliths are distinct calcium carbonate structures within the inner ear of fishes that are used for hearing and balance. The changes resulted in up to a 58-percent increase in otolith mass, and when tested in a mathematical model of otolith function, showed a potential increase in hearing sensitivity and up to a 50-percent increase in hearing range.

IMAGE: This is micro-CT imagery of a cobia larva head that has been filtered to view the entire skull (top image) and the more dense otolith (ear stone) structures (bottom image)….

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“Increased hearing sensitivity could improve a fish’s ability to use sound for navigation, predator avoidance, and communication. However, it could also increase their sensitivity to common background noises, which may disrupt the detection of more useful auditory information,” said Bignami, who recently completed his PhD in Marine Biology and Fisheries at UM.

The study, a collaboration between UM and NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, is the first to use micro-CT technology to examine otoliths while still inside the heads of the larval fish.

“This effect of ocean acidification represents a significant change to a key sensory system in fish. Although the ultimate ecological consequences still need to be determined, there is the potential for serious impact on important processes such as larval fish recruitment and fisheries replenishment in this species and perhaps other critical fisheries,” Bignami added.

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Article: Bignami S, Enochs I, Manzello D, Sponaugle S, Cowen RK (2013) Ocean acidification alters the otoliths of a pan-tropical fish species with implications for sensory function. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. doi:10.1073/pnas.1301365110

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54 thoughts on “Now I’ve heard everything

  1. Gasp. Count to ten. Take deep breath. Think of question: If you are a believer, how many suppositions laid end to end does it take to reach a conclusion?

  2. I wonder what “low-pH seawater” involves? I’ve lowered the soil pH for my Blueberries to under 5. They still don’t seem to hear me. My mathematical model indicates . . . Oh, never mind.

  3. Also today, a study forecasting slightly bigger waves in the Southern Ocean due to climate change:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-18/climate-change-predicted-to-increase-wave-height/4637624

    I’m cataloging the more eccentric of these for future merriment.

    Is it any wonder that they can find the volume of papers necessary to arrive at their 97%-of-published-papers-support figure*, or whatever it was, when funding continues to be made available to examine auditory impacts on fish, giant carbon crabs, aircraft turbulence, increased meteor danger, the acne threat, excess-carbon flatulence, etc.?

    Seriously.

    Like a civic authority that paves and repaves the same street at the end of the fiscal year to justify its budget for the next, the climate industry (for such it is) is cranking this stuff out furiously to justify its continued existence.

    Cheers, P.

  4. ” We show that 2,100 μatm partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) significantly increased not only otolith size (up to 49% greater volume and 58% greater relative mass) but also otolith density (6% higher). Estimated relative mass in 800 μatm pCO2 treatments was 14% greater, and there was a similar but nonsignificant trend for otolith size.”

    How much CO2 would be required in the atmosphere to achieve these values in the world’s oceans?

  5. I wonder if another study that examines this very proposition will come up with the same conclusions. This exactly the opposite of what a paper from University of Bristol was getting hysterical about 2 years ago. Back then, ocean acidification was supposed to cause hearing loss in fish:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/global-warming-threatens-fish-that-inspired-finding-nemo-2291517.html

    May be the team from Bristol and the team from Miami can have a wrestling contest to determine who is right. That result will be equally as credible.

  6. OK, so a simulation of a theoretical future was modeled to show there could be more dense otoliths in some fish that could possibly increase their hearing sensitivity by as much as 58% if the model is correct and the theory is correct and the simulation of the future becomes reality. Do I have that right ? What could possibly go wrong ? Fear the CO2 overmaster !!!

    Oh, by the way, did they do any field sampling to observe actual reality ? NAH !!

    “What difference does it make?” – Hillary Clinton

  7. As we enter the 17th year of no warming trend, CAGW grant whores will move the agenda away from warming (since there isn’t any), to other made-made CO2 “catastrophic” effects such as over-sensitive fish hearing, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, one-off weather events, glacier melts, OHC, etc. in an effort to prolong research funding before the SHTF.

    BTW, as any fisherman knows, it’s always great to have explanations to account for poor fishing: water too warm, water too cool, wrong lunar cycle, too cloudy, too sunny, too much rain, too little rain, poor tide cycle, too windy, not enough wind, etc., It’ll be nice to add CO2 induced hyper-sensitive fish hearing to my litany of excuses. Thank you Dr. Bignami!

    This may mean I’ll have to tone down my language when fishing as I wouldn’t want to offend any oversensitive fish…

    BTW, Bignami means Big “wave” in Japanese… Surfs UP!

  8. “MIAMI – April 18, 2013 … fish may be impacted by acidification … potential effects … simulating future conditions … potential for significant impact … tested in a mathematical model … showed a potential increase … which may … ”

    _______________________________________________________________________________
    | Acme Science Sweepstakes Postal Permit No. 666
    | 1984 Malthusian Way
    | Barnum, PT 00000
    |
    |”Open immediately! You may have won!”

  9. I remember the post on WUWT that Grandpa Boris mentioned about deaf fish (two of them). This is a perfect example of the nonsensical , contradictory, logic of AGW, where it can cause drought, floods, snow, no snow etc etc etc, all at the taxpayers expense!

  10. FREE World Climate Widget inside!

    [Providential placement, IMO -- The Intelligent Designer is on our side!]

  11. Oceans are currently alkaline. First they must be neutralised. Then they can be made acid. Problem is if you warm the oceans they won’t absorb any more CO2. What will the warmists try then?

  12. There always had to be a “next”. Ironically, the psychological study has to be on those that predict gloom and doom. Wouldn’t you think?

  13. Dave Wendt says:
    April 18, 2013 at 10:14 pm
    ” We show that 2,100 μatm partial pressure of carbon dioxide (pCO2) significantly increased not only otolith size (up to 49% greater volume and 58% greater relative mass) but also otolith density (6% higher). Estimated relative mass in 800 μatm pCO2 treatments was 14% greater, and there was a similar but nonsignificant trend for otolith size.”

    How much CO2 would be required in the atmosphere to achieve these values in the world’s oceans?

    Went looking for my own answer and found this

    http://www.marsci.uga.edu/facultypages/cai/publication_files/Zhai_marchem05_SCS.pdf

    The partial pressure of carbon dioxide and air–sea fluxes in the northern South China Sea in spring, summer and autumn

    Abstract
    The distribution of pCO2 in the surface waters of the northern South China Sea (NSCS) was examined in the summer of 2000, the spring of 2001 and the late fall of 2002. For the offshore region N100 km away from the coastline, surface water pCO2 varied within a range of 360–450 Aatm during all the surveys. Nevertheless, they were generally higher than atmospheric pCO2.
    Sea–air DpCO2 ranged in 50–100 Aatm in the summer, 0–50 Aatm in the spring and 0–90 Aatm in the late fall. Average sea-toair CO2 flux was 7 mmol CO2m2/day in the summer and 1–3 mmolCO2m2/day in the spring and fall. Nearshore pCO2 showed a very dynamic pattern likely associated with the regional hydrodynamic settings, yet again pCO2 in the surface water
    overall exceeded the air pCO2. Data from this study thus suggests that the NSCS served as a source of atmospheric CO2. Seasonal variations of the pCO2 in the NSCS outer shelf and slope surface waters were significantly influenced by sea surface temperature.

    I’m not sure if I’m interpreting this correctly, but it suggests to me that to reach the 2100 level they used to create this effect, atmospheric CO2 would have to go up 4-5 times what it is at present.

  14. “How much CO2 would be required in the atmosphere to achieve these values in the world’s oceans?”

    2100 μatm = 2100 ppm

  15. Sooo if CO2 causes giant crabs AND super-hearing in fish We could end up with GIANT CRABS WITH SUPERPOWERS , I need immediate funding to study this threat to the planet !
    (and yeah I know there`s a huge difference in crustacean and osteichthyian physiology but it is post-normal science We`re talking about here )

  16. Hmm. Due to age and damage, my hearing is rubbish now. I wonder whether a spoonful or two of vinegar in my bathwater might help, or whether I’d have to turn into a Rachycentron canandum first?

  17. Meanwhile, on the sea surface, up north, sea ice extent is still hovering within a wisker of normal

    Everythings just hunky-dory :-)

    But that doesn’t stop the Warmistas banging on about ice thickness, loss of perennial ice, more vegetation growing in the Arctic, thawing permafrost, melting Greenland Ice Sheet, northward migation of species, drowning polar bears and Inuit hunters, Arctic coastal erosion, new shipping lanes, resource exploitation, shifting weather patterns, blah, blah, blaaah……

    Some people just can’t look on the bright side…

  18. Oh my giddy aunt. The eco-taliban are clearly lining up ocean acidification as the next great unifying scare in the Left’s incessant desire to control behaviour.

    Best they learn that a reduction in alkalinity does not produce or even imply an increase in acidity. It’s as wrong as saying that becoming slightly less obese makes one slightly more anorexic. This distinction needs to be rammed down the throat of any eco-pimping journalist who is clueless or lazy enough to chant this mantra.

    It’s a daft choice for a scare anyway, being diminished, as it would, by the post-tipping point thermal melt down caused by killer plant food z zz zzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Thud.

  19. More wonderful news! All we need to do is increase CO2 6-fold and we can cure deafness in fish!

    Is there anything CO2 can’t do?? It makes plants grow, impedes cyclogenesis, reduces winter deaths, and makes deaf fish such a 20th century problem. If we didn’t already emit CO2, we’d have to invent it.

    The best part is we didn’t even need the Deaf Fish Tax, or the creation of the UNODF to build global consensus.

  20. is this a wind up or as us Aussies call it a piss take – Doctor Bignami is making a big mane for himself

  21. Take a fool, take another fool add one fool and what do you get a big fool aka bignami.
    Or are we the fools for allowing this garbage.
    Is anyone listening cos the fish ain’t :-)

  22. well, if’n that don’t dissolve an aural calculus…..land sakes, Dr. Trenberth, ah found the missin’ heat!

  23. Big Trev says:
    April 19, 2013 at 12:55 am

    is this a wind up or as us Aussies call it a piss take – Doctor Bignami is making a big mane for himself

    Well, are you sure about that? Remember now, we don’t want to get into a pi$$ing content with either end of the imminent-ending professor, nor into a mane-calling contest here in pubic on Anthony’s WIWT about which end of the horse he is trying to emulate, simulate, ejaculate, prostate or stimulate! .

    After all, as isn’t he making a bigger horse’s end for himself all by his own efforts?

  24. Just to point out that ‘Andrew’ ie, moi, who posted at 12:43 am, is not the same ‘Andrew’ who posted at 12:50 am.

  25. Andrews: 12:43 or 12:50, hard to tell you two apart in your stiffupperlippery.

  26. This study was clearly funded by Big Sportsfishing. It provides yet another excuse for The One That Got Away, viz. “The darn thing heard my bait and line falling through the water, and took evasive action.”

  27. Still coming out with this crap! Ocean pH in surface waters varies between 7.6 amd 8.4 and they complain at a change from 8.2 to 8.0 or whatever. Any measured change was firmly within the alkali range. This is NOT acidic. Waters round black smokers have a pH of around 4.5 which is acidic but harbours many species of crustacean and mollusc unaware of their danger from that acid water.

  28. Stacey says:
    April 19, 2013 at 1:12 am

    Take a fool, take another fool add one fool and what do you get a big fool aka bignami.
    Or are we the fools for allowing this garbage.
    Is anyone listening cos the fish ain’t :-)

    If you foolishly fold a fool’s paper often enough into ever larger and larger triangles, can you end up with professor’s biganami figures?

  29. As Alice in Wonderland might have put it: ‘A thing can hardly become more acidic unless it is an acid to begin with’. – See the Mad Hatter’s tea-party and ‘Have some more wine’.

  30. I think hearing aids for deaf fish is a very nice idea. If we can help the poor things, why not?

  31. Tangentially related, the other day I was listening to an NPR story about a guy doing an experiment on coral in Australia. He posits that ocean acidification is reducing growth rates of the coral, and was about to pump a neutralizer into the “walled in area” he described as a “bathtub” that was protecting the coral. His measurements for base ocean acidity he took from the water that sloshed over the wall.

    At which pt I start wondering… “so, basically to ‘protect’ the coral they walled it in and have reduced the amount of fresh seawater that the coral has access to… over time, the coral may have sucked most of the calcium out of the tub and now can only build as fast as new calcium gets added to the pool?”

    If arrangements like this are what the coral danger projections are based on, I’m not sure their methodology is flawless…

  32. Both research reports may be right. Excess CO2 made the fish deaf, and increased the size of the stones in their ears. That is what an “otolith” is – see the video that Sean made. Otoliths are likely to increase deafness. Improves balance, yes, but imagine having large stones rolling around in your inner ear! Reminds me of a story of an Irish researcher,who trained spiders to react to his voice. Eventually when he shouted “Walk” they would walk, and when he shouted “Stop” they would stop. Next he glued their legs together, and when he shouted “Walk” they did nothing. “This result,” he said, “confirms that spiders have their ears in their legs.”. QED. Are you certain that the original publication date was not 1 April?

  33. One sea bass to another: ‘Quick, we’re outta here – I heard the two fisherman in that boat saying they want a nice sea bass for supper…’

  34. “…stunning new insight into the potential effects of acidification on the sensory function of larval cobia”.
    —————————–
    I’m stunned I tells yah, stunned!!!

  35. Well, this is terrible news, but I can’t figure out why, I just know it is. Did the acid clean the fishes’ ears? How will we be able to sneak up on the fish. Will we all starve!
    Oh, it’s a computer model?
    Never mind.
    (Next, you’ll tell me taxpayer money was used to pay for this nonsense!)

  36. Seriously folks, this could be a real problem. If the indicated effects of Ph change affect larger ocean dwelling flesh eating critters, I won’t be able to swim in the ocean again…………….

  37. I recently had an exchange with a US marine biologist, whom I thought well of until he went all CAGW on me and tried to justify his research conclusions in ocean pH. What astounded me more than anything was his profound ignorance of anything outside of water + CO2 … his arguments and explanations were so weak so to be transparent. Needless to say, this must have been brought on by the insatiable desire for research funding.

    Ocean pH is different in each and every location and is different at any time of day.This reliance on modelling over measurements must create acute cognitive dissonance with these people.

    Mind you I was more astounded by the golf commentators at the USLPGA event in Hawaii, yesterday, sprouting forth on climate change … blaming it for the windy conditions in the Trade Winds zone.

  38. Of a piece with the observation I’ve seen that more acid waters make the calcium more mobile, and hence more available to living organisms. That would make building larger otoliths easier.

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