Another ‘fish story’ about ocean acidification where researchers fool themselves into thinking they are actually doing science

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Coral Reef at Dobu Island, Milne Bay, PNG, with carbon dioxide bubbling through it (photo: Bob Halstead)

Readers may recall this previous fish story: CO2 increases to make drunken clownfish

Well, Danielle Dixon and Philip Munday are at it again.  This PR claim from the Georgia Institute of Technology  Fish from acidic ocean waters less able to smell predators smells fishy to me. Just ask any salt-water aquariaist how hard it is to simulate the ocean in a fish tank and keep the fish from being stressed.

The failure of this claim is clear when you watch the video below, showing natural CO2 bubbles coming off the sea floor in Milne Bay, in Papua New Guinea. They use this as the “control” for the experiment, according to the caption, when they should be using a normal reef and doing the experiments in situ. Instead, they transport these fish back to the the mobile lab (on a boat), perform experiments, and assume there is no difference in the environment that may contribute to behavioral differences. They apparently don’t stop to consider that BOTH groups of fish in the mobile lab might be stressed the same way. Worse, there’s no mention of transporting fish caught at a non-bubbling reef back to the mobile lab so that they can perform the same test on them and compare differences if any. Instead they say:  “The results do show that what Dixson and colleagues found in the lab matches with what is seen in the field.”

They simply ignored the most obvious control group test and did no actual in situ experiment.

Then there’s the most obvious question they didn’t ask: if CO2 affects the fish behavior so poorly, making them more susceptible to predators how is it that they observe “Contrary to expectations, fish diversity and community structure differed little between CO2 seeps and nearby control reefs.”. How would the fishes near CO2 bubbling reefs survive if their predator response was adversely affected. They claim there’s less predators near the CO2 bubbling reefs. Well hello! Wouldn’t that mean the fish were conditioned by their lower predator environment to be less afraid of predators to start with and CO2 may not play a role at all?

It is such a spectacular failure of the scientific method I don’t know how this got past peer review.

And, not only is the science sloppy the press release is also sloppy, with no name of the paper, DOI, or other citation given. I had to call the PIO and ask for it.

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Oddly behaving fish from a CO2 seep confirm laboratory experiments

Fish living on coral reefs where carbon dioxide seeps from the ocean floor were less able to detect predator odor than fish from normal coral reefs, according to a new study.

The study confirms laboratory experiments showing that the behavior of reef fishes can be seriously affected by increased carbon dioxide concentrations in the ocean. The new study is the first to analyze the sensory impairment of fish from CO2 seeps, where pH is similar to what climate models forecast for surface waters by the turn of the century.

“These results verify our laboratory findings,” said Danielle Dixson, an assistant professor in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. “There’s no difference between the fish treated with CO2 in the lab in tests for chemical senses versus the fish we caught and tested from the CO2 reef.”

 


VIDEO: Scientists collected fish from the coral reefs shown here and found that fish from the more acidic waters of the bubble reefs were less likely to detect the odor of…

Click here for more information.

The research was published in the April 13 Advance Online Publication of the journal Nature Climate Change. Philip Munday, from James Cook University in Australia, was the study’s lead author. The work was supported by the Australian Institute for Marine Science, a Grant for Research and Exploration by the National Geographic Society, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.

The pH of normal ocean surface water is around 8.14. The new study examined fish from so-called bubble reefs at a natural CO2 seep in Papua New Guinea, where the pH is 7.8 on average. With today’s greenhouse gas emissions, climate models forecast pH 7.8 for ocean surface waters by 2100, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“We were able to test long-term realistic effects in this environment,” Dixson said. “One problem with ocean acidification research is that it’s all laboratory based, or you’re testing something that’s going to happen in a 100 years with fish that are from the present day, which is not actually accurate.”

Previous research had led to speculation that ocean acidification might not harm fish if they could buffer their tissues in acidified water by changing their bicarbonate levels. Munday and Dixson were the first to show that fishes’ sensory systems are impaired under ocean acidification conditions in the laboratory.

IMAGE: Juvenile fishes from a carbon dioxide seep, such as damselfishes (pictured above), were less able to detect predator odor than fishes from a control coral reef, according to a new…Click here for more information.

“They can smell but they can’t distinguish between chemical cues,” Dixson said.

Carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is absorbed into ocean waters, where it dissolves and lowers the pH of the water. Acidic waters affect fish behavior by disrupting a specific receptor in the nervous system, called GABAA, which is present in most marine organisms with a nervous system. When GABAA stops working, neurons stop firing properly.

Coral reef habitat studies have found that CO2-induced behavioral changes, similar to those observed in the new study, increase mortality from predation by more than fivefold in newly settled fish.

Fish can smell a fish that eats another fish and will avoid water containing the scent. In Dixson’s laboratory experiments, control fish given the choice between swimming in normal water or water spiked with the smell of a predator will choose the normal water. But fish raised in water acidified with carbon dioxide will choose to spend time in the predator-scented water.

Juvenile fish living at the carbon dioxide seep and brought onto a boat for behavior testing had nearly the identical predator sensing impairment as juvenile fish reared at similar CO2 levels in the lab, the new study found.

The fish from the bubble reef were also bolder. In one experiment, the team measured how far the fish roamed from a shelter and then created a disturbance to send the fish back to the shelter. Fish from the CO2 seep emerged from the shelter at least six times sooner than the control fish after the disturbance.

Despite the dramatic effects of high CO2 on fish behaviors, relatively few differences in species richness, species composition and relative abundances of fish were found between the CO2 seep and the control reef.

“The fish are metabolically the same between the control reef and the CO2 reef,” Dixson said. “At this point, we have only seen effects on their behavior.”

The researchers did find that the number of large predatory fishes was lower at the CO2 seep compared to the control reef, which could offset the increased risk of mortality due to the fishes’ abnormal behavior, the researchers said.

In future work, the research team will test if fish could adapt or acclimate to acidic waters. They will first determine if the fish born at the bubble reef are the ones living there as adults, or if baby fish from the control reef are swimming to the bubble reef.

“Whether or not this sensory effect is happening generationally is something that we don’t know,” Dixson said.

The results do show that what Dixson and colleagues found in the lab matches with what is seen in the field.

“It’s a step in the right direction in terms of answering ocean acidification problems.” Dixson said. “The alternative is just to wait 100 years. At least now we might prepare for what might be happening.”

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This research is supported by the Australian Institute for Marine Science, a Grant for Research and Exploration by the National Geographic Society, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies. Any conclusions or opinions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the sponsoring agencies.

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Abstract:

Behavioural impairment in reef fishes caused by ocean acidification at CO2 seeps

Philip L. Munday, Alistair J. Cheal, Danielle L. Dixson, Jodie L. Rummer & Katharina E. Fabricius

Nature Climate Change (2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2195

Experiments have shown that the behaviour of reef fishes can be seriously affected by projected future carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the ocean1, 2, 3, 4. However, whether fish can acclimate to elevated CO2 over the longer term, and the consequences of altered behaviour on the structure of fish communities, are unknown. We used marine CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea as a natural laboratory to test these questions. Here we show that juvenile reef fishes at CO2 seeps exhibit behavioural abnormalities similar to those seen in laboratory experiments. Fish from CO2 seeps were attracted to predator odour, did not distinguish between odours of different habitats, and exhibited bolder behaviour than fish from control reefs. High CO2 did not, however, have any effect on metabolic rate or aerobic performance. Contrary to expectations, fish diversity and community structure differed little between CO2 seeps and nearby control reefs. Differences in abundances of some fishes could be driven by the different coral community at CO2 seeps rather than by the direct effects of high CO2. Our results suggest that recruitment of juvenile fish from outside the seeps, along with fewer predators within the seeps, is currently sufficient to offset any negative effects of high CO2 within the seeps. However, continuous exposure does not reduce the effect of high CO2 on behaviour in natural reef habitat, and this could be a serious problem for fish communities in the future when ocean acidification becomes widespread as a result of continued uptake of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2195.html

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Related:

The fishes and the coral live happily in the CO2 bubble plume

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68 thoughts on “Another ‘fish story’ about ocean acidification where researchers fool themselves into thinking they are actually doing science

  1. April Fool’s day is long past, so this means I must have mistakenly side-stepped to The Onion instead of WUWT.
    Seriously though, if research like this was done on their own dime, it would not matter too much and it would be just good for a laugh; but it looks like this was a formal scientific study paid for by taxpayers.

  2. Bubbling reefs would be similar to predators that use air bubbles to drive fish in circles to eat them Fish are not dumb and reef fish would get use to bubbles and lack of preditors Bubbles would make it harded for them to see predators when they do come into the area.
    Their control should of included the first week of placing bubblers around the reefs, I bet the fish were scared until they got use to them.

  3. Bubbling reefs would be similar to predators that use air bubbles to drive fish in circles to eat them Fish are not dumb and reef fish would get use to bubbles and lack of preditors Bubbles would make it harded for them to see predators when they do come into the area.
    Their control should of included the first week of placing bubblers around the reefs, I bet the fish were scared until they got use to them.

  4. Of course it cannot be due to the fact that they were raised without the usual predators. Nah! Every one is scared of a saber tooth tiger and area always sniffing the air for them.

  5. And predator fish don’t use smell themselves to locate prey, they are now using crank telephones.

  6. they (georgia) keep producing this crap just to embarrass the hell out of the rest of us……..

  7. More faux science, like that from the lobster kid, designed to basically see if angels, dancing on the head of a pin in a high CO2 bell jar, prefer the can-can or the limbo.

  8. I’ve checked on Google, nobody is asking about the sulfur dioxide produced by volcanoes, that may well be the source of the acidification (actually lowered alkalinity).

    They must have been excited when all these marine biologists headed out to these “CO2 seeps” looking for dead things. Many late night at Big Green HQ when they found no real problems. So they grab some of the poor fish and test them until they finding “something wrong”. Poor science, poor journalism, is WUWT the only place talking sense?

  9. It’s this whole ‘ocean acidification’ thing that gets me. The oceans are not acid, never have been, never will be and cannot be. It’s disingenuous at best and downright deceitful. If scientists wish to communicate their work, they have a duty to do it honestly and without any ambiguity, especially to the casual reader, i.e. when they ‘know’ it will be reported in the MSM. To use the term ‘acidification’ is done deliberately to create an alarmist picture, but it destroys any trust we can have in them or their work.

    Anyone commanding a public position must present and represent their own and others information and data with honesty and integrity.

  10. So, fresh water fish must be at a terrible disadvantage…we obviously need to salt the lakes and rivers to help them smell better!
    Or would fish who live in areas where the CO2 content is different not be able to work out that the area is more dangerous and avoid it? If they don’t avoid it then there is no increased risk to the fish. Only to fish researchers grants…

  11. “It is such a spectacular failure of the scientific method I don’t know how this got past peer review.”

    Easy:

    If it supports or blames CAGW by CO2, then proper peer review is suspended and “climate change peer review” is in effect.

  12. Sounds like this research is worthy of this children’s joke:
    Q. How do you keep fish from smelling?
    A. Cut off their noses?

  13. Fish from acidic ocean waters less able to smell predators…

    Ok, you guys have had enough time already….and not one word about the corals….in the acidic ocean water with CO2 bubbling up through them.

    You can’t lower the pH until you use up all of the buffer!

  14. How did it get past peer review? Well, as everyone knows what the right answer should be and they got the right answer, where’s the problem? You are not one of those deniers are you?

  15. This reminds me of all of the benchtop “experiments” where they say ocean acidification is a fact. They just take some acidic water and toss a piece of chalk in there. “SEE, THE OCEANS ARE GOING TO DIE!” Yeah, sure, real great science there people.

  16. CO2 is seeping from the ocean floor? Somebody get a rag to stuff in there to stop it up, we’re dying here!!

    So an obvious follow up question would be: why are there less predators? Do the predators have more trouble smelling with the extra CO2 present to detect prey, or are they distracted from the constant moving bubble and unable to pin point prey?

    And if the predators are also at a disadvantage because of CO2, aren’t we still maintaining equilibrium?

    Are the seeps exclusively CO2, or are there other chemicals mixed in that might affect smell more than simply CO2?

    It is amazing how these are all done solely to prove the point no matter how much the test and the results have to be twisted to fit, not to actually test any theories.

  17. “We beat 40 fish to death with a yellow, fibreglass tripod. Two days later we beat 36 fish to death with an ordinary, unpainted maple baseball bat. It was the CO2, & we’re scientists, so shut up.”

  18. This remind me of the old joke. “It has been found that laboratory testing causes cancer in rats”. On a more serious note, they have documented that laboratory rats develop psychosis from the laboratory conditions, meaning that any kind of mental observations are questionable. The only way is to continually get fresh rats.

  19. Another foolish attempt at trying to make people believe that 0,04% CO2 in the air will cause the oceans to become more ‘acidic’. The oceans already have more then 50 times higher concentration of CO2 that the air, moreover HCO3- rules the carbon balance in the oceans. And as every schoolboy knows, the oceans will pump out CO2 if they were to heat, as water releases gases of all kinds as it warms.

    Qite to the contrary of these IPCC/UN funded make-believe reports, the oceans are not becoming more acidic, and they will not eiter, in the coming 100 years. There is no cause for alarm, the cons. CO2 will have to become much higher than today, with no global warming, for the oceans to start absorbing CO2.

    How can people that claim CO2 warms the atmosphere (and thereby the oceans) at the same time claim that rising CO2 lowers ocean pH? If oceans warms, as a cause of rising CO2, they will release CO2. So these people need to do one of two: 1) Give up the claim that CO2 rises temperature, or 2) Give up the claim that increase of CO2 in the air lowers ocean pH.

    They are trying to kill two birds with one stone, but they end up throwing their stone, and killing their own claims. This is hogwash, and these rediculous claims have been refuted repeatedly since the Royal Society in England tried the same balloony in 2008.

  20. Lars, or more simply…the carbonate reacts with CO2 to form bicarbonate
    You can’t lower the pH until you run out of buffer.

  21. If they were less able to detect predator odor, then they would all get eaten so the reef would be fishless.

    Just for kicks, did they by any chance also check the predators in this CO2 laced water to ascertain whether or not they were stupid too, and couldn’t detect prey odor ??

    Did they check that; huh; did they ??

  22. In future work, the research team will test if fish could adapt or acclimate to acidic waters.

    We also have…….

    Abstract
    …..High CO2 did not, however, have any effect on metabolic rate or aerobic performance. Contrary to expectations, fish diversity and community structure differed little between CO2 seeps and nearby control reefs……

    Maybe they have stumbled on the answer.

    Now check out this UNREALISTIC experiment. Acclimatisation does not stand a chance. Eighty six is could be an entirely different matter, they don’t know.

    Abstract
    Reduced early life growth and survival in a fish in direct response to increased carbon dioxide
    ….When compared with present-day CO2 levels (~400 ppm), exposure of M. beryllina embryos to ~1,000 ppm until one week post-hatch reduced average survival and length by 74% and 18%, respectively……

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n1/abs/nclimate1291.html

    Doh!

  23. I have written a rather exhaustive essay on this, half published over at Climate Etc. last year on oysters. Milne Bay is a famous dive locale. Each seep is different. The problem all the Dobu Island seeps have is H2S, since Dobu is an inactive volcano. See the previous SI for the previous data, and the Seattle Times for the false amplification.
    There are at least two obvious problems with this new Milne seep paper. First, waters in the immediate seep vicinity are lethally toxic. H2S to sea life is as cyanide to us, for the same hemotoxic reasons. And it is the H2S, not the CO2, that lowers pH so much. The ‘Bubble Bath’ at Dobu has a pH of 6.7 on the seep, yet is surrounded by thriving coral reef a few feet away. Google.
    Second, transects no more than 5 meters away from these seeps did not display any toxicity. You know, the ocean is a big place where stuff gets diluted fast. And waves. And currents. And…
    Now how,exactly, did these juvenile fish manage to swim only in a restricted range close to toxic seeps? Last time I checked, fish swim about widely to find food and get away from bad stuff– poisons, predators, fishermen like me…
    The stupidity here burns… Any common sense would show this to be more ridiculous stuff.
    Please, any divers out there to confirm how stupid this is ??

  24. The logic or lack thereof burns….
    “Despite the dramatic effects of high CO2 on fish behaviors, relatively few differences in species richness, species composition and relative abundances of fish were found between the CO2 seep and the control reef.”

    In the famous words of Hillary “What difference, at this point, does it make?” if, in the immortal words of Obama, “the police [fish] acted stupidly”

    ROFL

  25. If you are going to debunk this study, try to write credibly. It’s hard for me to agree that this study is sloppy when you, the source, are writing like mud. You are also spelling names wrong making you even less legit. F+ for wasted time.

  26. I thought ocean CO2 “acidification” was going to exterminate the calcifiers. So how is it that there’s a reef at all around a pH 7.8 CO2 seep, much less a thriving reef with all sorts of species diversity?

    By the way, Rud, H2S is even more toxic to we mammals than is cyanide. It’s just we can smell the stuff at 1 ppb in air and get away.

  27. I saw this story on Yahoo news last night and almost posted comment there but I just couldn’t. As others have already posted here that the oceans can’t be acidifying, due to the endless buffering of dissolved minerals in the oceans. Oceans can maybe become less alkaline, this latest paper continues to mislead the public. Fraud and lies. Can’t call it climate science.

  28. I don’t know about smelling predators, but I smell someone using our tax dollars to get to do a bunch of diving on the GBR.

  29. I worked in the Milne Bay area in the 1980s, and there are numerous CO2 seeps. In one area blasting to create a harbour in WWII resulted in big cracks in the reef, with bubbling up CO2, methane and light oil. Much of the region is an oilfield, with many onshore and offshore seeps. I wonder how this impacts the “research”?

  30. There is a beauty to this study like there is to a well made Rube Goldberg or Heath Robinson machine; it must be challenging to design an “experiment” that appear to be objective when looked at trivialy and leads to a pre-determined conclusion.

  31. I saw a documentary about this a few months ago. The overall claim was that coral and fish life were badly affected by the CO2 bubbling up from the sea floor. Corals and fish unaffected in other parts of the bay where CO2 was not bubbling up from the sea floor. To me, these “scientists” had already drawn their conclusions before they even started.

  32. Clearly, these researchers have not heard of the Pink Skunk Clownfish. These fish inhabit tropical reef waters including Australian waters. Did these researchers ever consider that a foul odor from the Pink Skunk Clown may have skunked any predators in the area. No, I think they did not.

    Ok, I’m open to the small possibility that the Pink Skunk Clown may be called a Pink Skunk Clown, not because it has the same foul odor glands that a skunk has, but maybe because it just might look a little bit like what a skunk would look like if it was a fish. And, of course, if the skunk happened to be pink.

    Ok, I realize I’ve just utterly destroyed my own theory. But, perhaps there is a lesson in this. Just because something may be described in some manner doesn’t mean it actually functions in that manner. For instance, I don’t really think the Jaguar sitting in my neighbor’s driveway is going to take to eating Gazelle’s anytime soon. Perhaps our intrepid researchers could learn from that and consider that the description of CO2 as a cloven hoofed, pointy tailed, burning red, cat eyed, horned destroyer may not actually be quite true. Maybe, before they began their research, they might have wished to research who described CO2 as that destroyer in the first place prior to assuming CO2 matched that fanciful description. Just like I should’ve figured out that Skunk Fish is a name, not a description of function; in the same way that in almost all cases CO2 is just a name for a research grant, and also not a description of function.

    Oh, I do have one question though. Can these scientists describe the function of the lateral line on fish?

  33. Unusual use of the plural of the word “fish” in the paper. “Fishes” sound more like the King James version of the bible to me.
    English is my native language and I would say one fish, two fishes, three fish.
    Maybe in the paper “fishes” has a specific meaning, or they had only two fish(es) to experiment with or they are simply not english graduates.
    Of course American english has slightly different rules (maybe).

    Cheers

    Roger

    http://www.rogerfromnewzealand.wordpress.com

  34. “It is such a spectacular failure of the scientific method I don’t know how this got past peer review.”

    I think it did so because they included the magic words ‘climate change’.

  35. kimbokrossroads says: “If you are going to debunk this study, try to write credibly. It’s hard for me to agree that this study is sloppy when you, the source, are writing like mud. You are also spelling names wrong making you even less legit. F+ for wasted time.”

    I recognize by your argument ad hominem that you are a warmist troll.

  36. I struggle with the idea of Ocean Acidification due to a 1/3 -ish increase in atmospheric CO2. Without doing the chemistry, it seems to me that a logarithmic function like pH coupled with the self-buffering chemistry of the oceans would result in a change that is so small as to be nearly undetectable, and certainly nothing like “acidifying” the oceans.

  37. rogerthesurf says:
    April 14, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Unusual use of the plural of the word “fish” in the paper. “Fishes” sound more like the King James version of the bible to me.
    English is my native language and I would say one fish, two fishes, three fish.

    “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” –Theodor Geisel

  38. Healthy happy young fish are adventurous. Sick and environmental stressed fish stay hidden. I don’t think this study proves what these propagandist are trying to say it proves. BTW, Damsel fish do not hide when predators are about, only when they sense they are being targeted. I don’t know it that is what was used in the study, but they are used in all sorts of studies for the very reason I stated. They are easy to work with, well other then being obnoxiously aggressive at times.

  39. rogerthesurf says:
    April 14, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Fishes implies more then one species is present, and is the correct form to use in that situation.

  40. It’s a happy coincidence that The Australian Institute of Marine Science chooses tropical, sun-drenched locations.

    Maybe next time they might examine the Antarctic Icefish, where temperatures get down to about 1.8 degrees Celsius in the winter. Any volunteers for that trip?

  41. ‘ Surface maps (left) and combined Pacific/Atlantic zonal mean sections (right) are given for scenario IS92a as averages over three time periods: 2011 to 2030 (top), 2045 to 2065 (middle) and 2080 to 2099 (bottom). Atmospheric CO2 concentrations for these three periods average 440, 570 and 730 ppm, respectively. ‘

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch10s10-4-2.html

    So the atmospheric CO2 would need to be at or above 730ppm for this to occur- if the above projection is to occur.

  42. U.S. Navy Fielding Weather-Predicting Sea Drones

    The drone subs measure about 5-foot-long, can descend to depths of 4,000 feet and stay submerged for several months at a time, communicating data every few seconds or so, Jacobs says. The Navy plans to increase its inventory of the gliders from 65 to 150 by next year.

    Atmospheric meteorologists predict weather about seven to 10 days out. Ocean meteorologists can give fairly accurate, educated guesses about 30 days out –

    http://www.afcea.org/content/?q=node/12631#sthash.YzI9wHSz.dpuf

  43. Dixson said. “The alternative is just to wait 100 years. At least now we might prepare for what might be happening.”

    Hey Dixon, then again we might not. Two might’s in one sentence is quite adequate for discounting your own study. Besides, I like the alternative. In 100 years if a problem manifests, we will give you funds for another study.

  44. From the paper’s supplemental pdf I read:

    Offshore water was also conditioned with chemical cues of benthic communities from the sites by placing 4 PVC settlement tiles that had been deployed at the either the CO2 seep and control reefs for 14 months into a 10 L bucket of offshore water for 2 hrs.

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/extref/nclimate2195-s1.pdf

    Does any biologist know the effects of PVC additives on the olfactory performance of the studied fish? I only ask because it has been claimed by no other that Greenpeace that:

    additives (to PVC) are not bound to the plastic and leach out.”

    http://www.toxipedia.org/display/toxipedia/PVC

    and from the same Toxipedia I read

    • Exposure to low levels of copper can negatively affect the olfactory system in Coho salmon. 13

    • Disruption of the olfactory system inhibits the salmon’s natural predator avoidance responses. 13

    • Copper has been shown to have similar impacts on the olfactory system of chinook salmon, rainbow trout, brown trout, fathead minnow, and tilapia. 13

    • Copper exposure to larval fish can interfere with behavior such as schooling, maintaining position in currents, and other behaviors that are integral to migration and survival. 14

    http://www.toxipedia.org/display/toxipedia/PVC

  45. Further to my last comment I find the following concerning PVC and copper additives. Did the above paper’s PVC tiles have copper additives? If yes then did it leach out to significant levels? How might it have affected their studied fish? I haven’t a clue. Expert here might have a go.

    http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/extref/nclimate2195-s1.pdf

    Abstract – 2012
    Low-level copper exposures increase visibility and vulnerability of juvenile coho salmon to cutthroat trout predators
    Copper contamination in surface waters is common in watersheds with mining activities or agricultural, industrial, commercial, and residential human land uses. This widespread pollutant is neurotoxic to the chemosensory systems of fish and other aquatic species. Among Pacific salmonids (Oncorhynchus spp.), copper-induced olfactory impairment has previously been shown to disrupt behaviors reliant on a functioning sense of smell. For juvenile coho salmon (O. kisutch), this includes predator avoidance behaviors triggered by a chemical alarm cue (conspecific skin extract). However, the survival consequences of this sublethal neurobehavioral toxicity have not been explored. In the present study juvenile coho were exposed to low levels of dissolved copper (5–20 μg/L for 3 h) and then presented with cues signaling the proximity of a predator. Unexposed coho showed a sharp reduction in swimming activity in response to both conspecific skin extract and the upstream presence of a cutthroat trout predator (O. clarki clarki) previously fed juvenile coho. This alarm response was absent in prey fish that were exposed to copper. Moreover, cutthroat trout were more effective predators on copper-exposed coho during predation trials, as measured by attack latency, survival time, and capture success rate. The shift in predator–prey dynamics was similar when predators and prey were co-exposed to copper. Overall, we show that copper-exposed coho are unresponsive to their chemosensory environment, unprepared to evade nearby predators, and significantly less likely to survive an attack sequence. Our findings contribute to a growing understanding of how common environmental contaminants alter the chemical ecology of aquatic communities.

    http://www.esajournals.org/doi/abs/10.1890/11-2001.1

  46. Funny thing. When you look into in the fine print of IPCC WGII latest report, the science there contradicts this acidification scare.

    WGII AR5 Report, Chapter 6 covers Ocean Systems. There we find some objective and blunt statements:

    “Few field observations conducted in the last decade demonstrate biotic responses attributable to anthropogenic ocean acidification” pg 4

    “Due to contradictory observations there is currently uncertainty about the future trends of major upwelling systems and how their drivers (enhanced productivity, acidification, and hypoxia) will shape ecosystem characteristics (low confidence).” Pg 5

    “Both acclimatization and adaptation will shift sensitivity thresholds but the capacity and limits of species to acclimatize or adapt remain largely unknown” Pg 23

    “Production, growth, and recruitment of most but not all non-calcifying
    seaweeds also increased at CO2 levels from 700 to 900 µatm Pg 25

    “Contributions of anthropogenic ocean acidification to climate-induced alterations in the field have rarely been established and are limited to observations in individual species” Pg. 27

    “To date, very few ecosystem-level changes in the field have been attributed to anthropogenic or local ocean acidification.” Pg 39

    I am finding much more credible the Senate Testimony of John T. Everett, in which he said:

    “There is no reliable observational evidence of negative trends that can be traced definitively to lowered pH of the water. . . Papers that herald findings that show negative impacts need to be dismissed if they used acids rather than CO2 to reduce alkalinity, if they simulated CO2 values beyond triple those of today, while not reporting results at concentrations of half, present, double and triple, or as pointed out in several studies, they did not investigate adaptations over many generations.”

    “In the oceans, major climate warming and cooling and pH (ocean pH about 8.1) changes are a fact of life, whether it is over a few years as in an El Niño, over decades as in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation or the North Atlantic Oscillation, or over a few hours as a burst of upwelling (pH about 7.59-7.8) appears or a storm brings acidic rainwater (pH about 4-6) into an estuary.”

  47. I would have thought this was the important part

    Jo NoVa-“They compared populations in reefs with normal pH levels with those near the vent. I note this line in the abstract didn’t make it to the press release:

    “Contrary to expectations, fish diversity and community structure differed little between CO2 seeps and nearby control reefs.”

  48. amazing what critters can survive at a high temp and ph of around 2.8at hydrothermal vents – a fissure in the ocean bottom that leaks scalding, acidic water.

    http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/OCEAN_PLANET/HTML/ps_vents.html

    “Mussels, shrimp, clams, and crabs are abundant at many vents, but these are not the same species that you find in seafood dishes. The cocktail-size shrimp that dominate vents in the mid-Atlantic, for example, have no eyes. However, at least one species has an extremely sensitive receptor on its head that may be used to detect heat or even dim light coming from vents. Scientists still aren’t sure how shrimp and other vent creatures cope with chemical-laden seawater that would kill ordinary shellfish?

  49. it goes onto say,

    “Water pouring out of vents can reach temperatures up to about 400 C; the high pressure keeps the water from boiling. However, the intense heat is limited to a small area. Within less than an inch of the vent opening, the water temperature drops to 2 C, the ambient temperature of deep seawater. Most of the creatures that congregate around vents live at temperatures just above freezing. Thus chemicals are the key to vent life, not heat”

    What happens to all the Hiroshiimas of heat from above?

  50. “The researchers did find that the number of large predatory fishes was lower at the CO2 seep compared to the control reef, which could offset the increased risk of mortality due to the fishes’ abnormal behavior, the researchers said.”

    Did they investigate whether the CO2 seeps affected the predatory fishes sensing hampering their ability to catch prey? Might that not be why the predatory fish numbers where lower and thus why the prey fish in those area acted the way they did? Maybe the prey fish from the seeps sense the ‘smell’ of the predatory fish just fine but due to the lower natural numbers the prey fish aren’t as worried because the odds of being eaten are lower?

    In fact isn’t it possible that the advantage of not being as skittish means less energy spent running away and more time spent gathering resources and that these advantages, in a lower predator area, outweigh the risk of being eaten?

  51. you would think their time would be better spent on this, the banging on about acidification is annoying.

    http://oceanhealth.xprize.org/competition-details/overview

    The Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE is a $2 million global competition that challenges teams of engineers, scientists and innovators from all over the world to create pH sensor technology that will affordably, accurately and efficiently measure ocean chemistry from its shallowest waters… to its deepest depths.

    The Market Failure

    While ocean acidification is well documented in a few temperate ocean waters, little is known in high latitudes, coastal areas and the deep sea, and most current pH sensor technologies are too costly, imprecise, or unstable to allow for sufficient knowledge on the state of ocean acidification.

  52. As any old fisherman knows, fish have a pressure sensor on their side called a lateral line that allows them to feel the other fish in the school and alerts them to predators. The sense organ detects low frequency vibrations, such as water displacement by a the tail movement of a large predator. The lateral line is the first line of defense for prey fish. The second line of defense is the eye. Fish can see about 3X further in the water than we feeble humans. The last sense to come into play is the sense of smell, which is very acute in fish with about 10,000 X the ability to detect odor compared to humans. ( we are site predators) So the very premise that CO2 has any effect on prey fish ability to escape predators is simply ridiculous.

  53. I am doubtful that there is enough CO2 in the atmosphere to significantly change ocean pH as a whole.

    The only way there would be enough CO2 is if CO2 has a fast clearance and short turnover time in the atmosphere.

    However this runs into a problem – the warmists are forced to insist – against the evidence – on very slow clearence of CO2 from the atmosphere. They need this in order that their CAGW religious apocalypse gets its eternal hell. It would be inadequate if mannmade harmful CO2 could clear from the atmosphere in a few decades only.

    Thus they are forced to instst on a fictitiously long CO2 residence time (ignoring for instance the H-bomb 14CO2 data). The consequence of this long residence time is inadequate flux rate of CO2 into the ocean to acidify it – that dark satanic CO2 cannot at the same time abide eternally in the atmosphere and also acidify the ocean.

    Except of course that it can, they can in fact have their CO2 cake and eat it, since joined up logical thinking is not required or even understood by post modern science in which scientific arguments are strictly rationed to a single logical clause only.

    Such mono-argument “reasoning” is a useful trick for all anti-science anti-technology pseudoscience scare stories.

  54. richard says:
    April 15, 2014 at 7:44 am

    http://www.livescience.com/42814-coral-reefs-thrives-acidic-waters.html

    “Contrary to what previous field and laboratory findings have suggested for reefs elsewhere, the researchers found the diversity and expansiveness of the reef was greater than neighboring reefs with lower levels of acidity”
    =====
    richard, they/she just proved that ocean acidification from elevated atmospheric CO2 is impossible….because you can’t lower the pH of the ocean, until you use up all of the buffer…

    “Through analysis of the water chemistry in Palau, the scientists found the acidification is primarily caused by the shell building done by the organisms living in the water – removing carbonate ions from seawater to construct their shells and skeletons, called calcification. ”

    http://news.agu.org/press-release/coral-reefs-in-palau-surprisingly-resistant-to-naturally-acidified-waters/

  55. The climate catastropharians in their search for signs of the coming apocalypse seem to have become blind to all conflicting evidence. The idea that the behavioural capacity of fishes will be seriously impaired by a reduction in pH to 7.8 is nonsensical.

    Seawater is strongly buffered and always alkaline. The lakes and rivers of the world have far lower pH values. The Amazon river has the most speciose and diverse of all freshwater fish faunas with a total of over 5600 species. Typical pH values there run from 6.9 ± 0.4 in the whitewater tributaries to as low as 5.1±0.6 in the blackwater tributaries.

    On shallow reef flats at night when all of the aerobic plants and animals of the reef are expiring CO2 and it is not being taken up by photosynthesis, a pH of 7.8 is a common natural occurrence regularly experienced by many reef fishes.

    When thousands of species of fishes thrive at much lower pH it seems unlikely that reef fishes would be unadapted to cope with a much milder reduction in pH commonly encountered in their own environment.

    It also seems misplaced to obsess over an olfactory response to predators in a circumstance where visual and auditory stimuli predominate and olfaction plays little or no important role.

  56. There really is only one way to describe scientists who keep referring to ocean acidification. They are ‘bullshit artists’.

    I cannot think of any location in the seas and oceans of the world where the sea actually is acidic, except for those areas around the volcanoes located deep under the oceans.

    The ph levels in the seas, in all the tropical locations that have coral reefs, is alkaline. And I’m referring to all the islands in the Carribbean to the Indian Ocean tropical islands like the Seychelles, Mauritius, Diego Garcia, and also the greatest of all reefs off Queensland Australia, the Great Barrier Reef. The sea is alkaline.

    If any scientist refers to ocean acidification, why does that scientist not refer to the precise location where the sea is actually acidic rather than alkaline? The answer is simple. It is utter crap. They’re promoting climate alarmist propaganda. A reduction in alkaline levels is just that … a drop in alkaline levels. It’s not evidence of acidification.

  57. The methods section says

    Juvenile fish were collected from CO2 seep and control reefs using small hand nets and tested within 12 h of capture.

    They didn’t test (or report) the reaction to odors of other fish than predators. Is it too far fetched to assume that after up to 12 hours of captivity, the fish would go wherever they sense the presence of other, any other, fish? Under normal conditions that would be the signal of freedom. The “road sign” to open sea, their natural habitat.

    I also wonder the evolutionary aspect of this. These seeps are naturally occurring areas of “catastrophic” CO2 levels and have been around for billions of years. These fish live there. If they really start seeking their predators instead of avoiding them, in their natural habitat, how is it possible that this trait hasn’t disappeared zillions of years ago?

    Also, how come the predators haven’t developed a trait that attracts them towards these seep areas? It will greatly simplify their life if they can just stand around and wait for their food to arrive. The study noted that there were less predators around the CO2 seeps. I wonder why would they avoid the free food and prefer nearby “complex reef habitats” instead?

    If the attraction is a real phenomenon and not a side effect of captivity, it has happened for millions of years around CO2 seeps everywhere every day. It should be easy to document this self-destructive behavior in the wild, i.e. fish actively swimming at their predators. Am I right to guess that nobody has ever seen it happening, and in reality fish do avoid their predators?

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