CO2 increases to make drunken clownfish

Ocellaris clownfish, Amphiprion ocellaris

From Nature.com, is there anything trace amounts of CO2 can’t do? As if clownfish (the test subject) don’t already act funny.

The New Scientist says:

Carbon dioxide in the ocean acts like alcohol on fish, leaving them less able to judge risks and prone to losing their senses. The intoxication adds to the threats that global warming and ocean acidification pose to marine ecosystems.

Here’s the paper in Nature Climate Change:

Near-future carbon dioxide levels alter fish behaviour by interfering with neurotransmitter function

Göran E. Nilsson, Danielle L. Dixson, Paolo Domenici, Mark I. McCormick, Christina Sørensen, Sue-Ann Watson & Philip L. Munday

Nature Climate Change (2012) doi:10.1038/nclimate1352

Received 18 August 2011, Accepted 29 November 2011, Published online 15 January 2012

Abstract:

Predicted future CO2 levels have been found to alter sensory responses and behaviour of marine fishes. Changes include increased boldness and activity, loss of behavioural lateralization, altered auditory preferences and impaired olfactory function1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Impaired olfactory function makes larval fish attracted to odours they normally avoid, including ones from predators and unfavourable habitats1, 3. These behavioural alterations have significant effects on mortality that may have far-reaching implications for population replenishment, community structure and ecosystem function2, 6. However, the underlying mechanism linking high CO2 to these diverse responses has been unknown. Here we show that abnormal olfactory preferences and loss of behavioural lateralization exhibited by two species of larval coral reef fish exposed to high CO2 can be rapidly and effectively reversed by treatment with an antagonist of the GABA-A receptor. GABA-A is a major neurotransmitter receptor in the vertebrate brain. Thus, our results indicate that high CO2 interferes with neurotransmitter function, a hitherto unrecognized threat to marine populations and ecosystems. Given the ubiquity and conserved function of GABA-A receptors, we predict that rising CO2 levels could cause sensory and behavioural impairment in a wide range of marine species, especially those that tightly control their acid–base balance through regulatory changes in HCO3− and Cl− levels.

==============================================================

The Daily Bayonet sums up this research pretty well:

That researchers chose the colorful and movie-famous clownfish as the subject for their study instead of the toadfish or other, less photogenic, aquatic reef dwellers, has nothing to do with winning headlines and funding. Probably.

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So these fish species are evolutionary dead ends given the natural wide variation of CO2 locally in the ocean. If CO2 screws them up how did they survive until now.

Pamela Gray

Now this is an article I agree with (hic). Has the same damned effect on me.

Latitude

Predicted future CO2 levels have been found….
Can someone read the paper and see what that is?
..then someone explain how you could be CO2 levels up that high in sea water?
According to these nubnuts, the water would become so acid the fish would have long ago died…..

H.R.

Ahhh… now we know how herrings get pickled.

edbarbar

I don’t want to know because I think I know the answer, but who is funding this stuff?

Robert

AGW…the greatest boon to researchers ever invented. Never mind so much of it is garbage.

Mac the Knife

There’s a good reason why they act like ‘clowns’…….just sayin’.

tokyoboy

I wonder how these clever people can come up with such a stupid imagination…..

DesertYote

That researchers chose the colorful and movie-famous clownfish as the subject for their study instead of the toadfish or other, less photogenic, aquatic reef dwellers, has nothing to do with winning headlines and funding. Probably.
###
Well, Clownfish, besides being able to be bread in captivity, have a lot of characteristics that make them more suited then other marine species for study. That being said, this whole line of research is bunk. BTW, I have actually kept Clownfish in elevated CO2 conditions so I can really call BS on this.
Clownfish are naturally VERY aggressive. I seriously doubt that these kids playing scientist have any sort of useful metric.

Lance

as demonstrated many times, the higher up the food chain, the more impact it has, thus….the predators must be passed out on the sea floor….

Anything is possible

“Carbon dioxide in the ocean acts like alcohol on fish, leaving them prone to losing their senses.”
___________________________________________________________________________
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere appears to have the same effect on certain scientists….

This is good news, with fish being less able to judge risks, fishing should get a whole lot easier, (since fish used to be great at judging risks) and the prices at your favorite seafood restaurant should be dropping.

Pu-leeeeeez. Add to their long list of iconic cute-creatures. Dolphins. Whales. Bears (though they are anything but cute close-up). Pandas. Nemo…er, Clownfish. Dumb it down to the media-star creatures.
Amazingly, Nemo is pictured swimming through a toxic forest of anemone tentacles, so yes indeed a little bit of CO2 is going to affect him???
And all the while never wonder how albino crabs and bizarre tube-worms thrive at the brink of acidic geothermal-spewing black smokers? These people have become shameless genuflectors to a cause akin to some wacky revivalist religion. The public is yawning. And forgive the sentiment, but I feel the urge to bitch-slap some sense into some of these ‘researchers’.

johanna

James Delingpole has provided a fine contribution to discussion of this latest piece of silliness, entitled “Losing Nemo”:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/
Honestly, what next? “Kittens lose will to live with increasing CO2”; or “Cute puppies to be a thing of the past, says climate researcher” or perhaps “Adorable foals at risk – we need to act now, says climate activist”.
They are really scraping the bottom of the barrel here.
Although, a “Goldfish against CO2” movement might attract some fleeting interest.

Justthinkin

“Predicted future CO2 levels have been found to alter sensory responses and behaviour of marine fishes. ”
Am I missing something here??? Is not a prediction something that may happen in the FUTURE,but has not yet occured ??
Sooooooo….how can something that has not happened “have been found to alter” any darn thing? I am so confuzzed. Any help?

Jeff in Calgary

“The pair reared clownfish (Amphiprion percula) larvae in seawater with normal (450 microatmospheres) and elevated (900 microatmospheres) CO2 levels.”
Apperantly 900microatmospheres is the CO2 level expected by the end of this century.
Reading the story on the magazine’s website make me think that this was one of those studies with a pre-decided outcome.

Jim Barker

Time traveling CO2 molecules wreak havoc, drunken fish, melting glaciers, next cats and dogs living together, ohhh….

We will need a 12-step programme for fish: CO2 Anonymous.
Oh wait – how can fish take steps?

Jeff L

How this reads to me :
“Dang, they aren’t buying the acidification scare angle…… better come up with something else scary – how about CO2 drunken fish …. yeah, that sounds like a good new angle to keep the grant gravy train rolling “

So this is why we have drunken clowns at the beach in summer!

jorgekafkazar

Clownfish. Well, let’s see somebody else repeat the study and see if the same results are obtained. WUWT had info on another study:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/04/co2-deafens-nemo-or-how-many-ichthyologists-can-you-fit-in-that-car/
It appears the warmists have given up on polar bears as their poster child. Somebody must have tipped them off that polar bears eat baby seals…

R. Shearer

Next we’ll learn about killer shrimp.

DJ

What was the results of the runs made with reduced levels of CO2?????

gary murphy

gary murphy
So, are they saying the oceans are getting cooler, huh? Colder water means more co2 absorption (solubility). can’t have it both ways.

eyesonu

Next time I go trout fishing I’ll take along a bottle of CO2 and get the trout drunk enough to ‘trust me’. Maybe I can even convince them that I only want to take them out for dinner.
I can’t wait until warm weather when the suckers run.

Luther Wu

eyesonu says:
January 17, 2012 at 7:16 pm
“Next time I go trout fishing I’ll take along a bottle of CO2 and get the trout drunk enough to ‘trust me’. Maybe I can even convince them that I only want to take them out for dinner.
I can’t wait until warm weather when the suckers run.

____________________________________
Richard Brautigan beat you to it.

John Trigge

The proper experiment would have been to start with today’s CO2 level and increase it to 2100’s ‘expected’ CO2 level but over a period of 88 years so that acclimatisation can be included.

Al Gored

This research confirms something I suggested here a while back.
That people like Hansen et al will eventually blame the high levels of CO2 for their junk science. As it is described here, It made them “prone to losing their senses.”
High levels of CO2 also make all data collection instruments faulty, so they had to adjust them.
CO2 causes everything.
Clownfish. Team climate scientists. And the difference is…. ? That clownfish are highly successful survivors who will be with us for a long time yet while Team climastrologists aren’t..

Robert Kral

Because greater availability of CO2 in sea water could not possibly be counterbalanced by greater photosynthetic activity turning it into molecular oxygen. And these clowns call themselves biologists.

grandpa boris

DesertYote is right on the money with his comment. Percula clownfish are commonly kept in reef aquariums, where it’s common to keep CO2 levels elevated to feed the symbiotic algae in the coral polyps and to encourage coral growth. Most aquarists don’t keep larval fish. But clownfishes are extensively bred in captivity at commercial fisheries. It would be interesting to have commercial fish breeders, who know what they are doing and who know a lot about normal and abnormal behaviours of fish, to confirm these results.

Tel
John-X

Hey Clownfish – don’t hold yer breath (so to speak).
Every time these goofballs promise us something based on what CO2 supposedly will do – IT NEVER HAPPENS.

Septic Matthew

The increase in CO2 will require many generations of clownfish. The populations should be able to adapt in the usual way — in each generation, the least adapted will die at the highest rates. Meanwhile, all their predator and food source populations will be adapting in the same way. These people (non-identfied) keep forgetting that they believe in evolution via random variation and natural selection.

Dave Worley

Not to worry, they may be wiped out before they succumb to CO2.
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/unleashed/2008/07/demand-for-nemo.html

G. Karst

It was the wee hours when Mr. Clownfish finally stumbled through the door. Just when he thought he might make it to his bed… the lights blazed on and he heard the unpleasant screech of Mrs. Clownfish “How dare you come home, at this hour, stinking of soda!” she screamed. “You have been down to the reef again, sopping up CO2 haven’t you?!” Mr. Clownfish weaved a little and looked down at his puke stained shoes and timidly nodded. Suddenly, the orange color drained from Mrs. Clownfish’s contorted face and she sceamed “Is that guppy slime on your collar?!” Mr Clownfish felt too ashamed to answer and then she sobbed “How could you? Think of the children” she cried. It was at that moment Mr. Clownfish realized that life was over as he knew it. “Damn that blasted CO2” he moaned. “Why doesn’t someone ban it?” was his only response. GK

Patrick Davis

CO2 is amazing stuff. On a current affairs program recently here in Australia, CO2 can cause drivers to fall asleep and crash while driving a car. I had to laugh.

Gary

Huffing CO2….hmm, that might explain the Climategate emails.

philincalifornia

They should consider themselves lucky that the missing heat sneaks through their environment without a trace on its way down to the bottom of the ocean.

Magoo

Weren’t the oceans supposed to give up their CO2 as the temperature rose?

Bill Hunter

Hmmmm, has the odor of Mannian statistics

tokyoboy

Paging….. Mr. Vigilantfish…..

michael hart

Makes you wonder how the fish ever manage to eat: Metabolizing food produces lots of carbon dioxide which is excreted, errr…., into the ocean.

Dave Wendt

jorgekafkazar says:
January 17, 2012 at 7:00 pm
Clownfish. Well, let’s see somebody else repeat the study and see if the same results are obtained. WUWT had info on another study:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/04/co2-deafens-nemo-or-how-many-ichthyologists-can-you-fit-in-that-car/
It appears the warmists have given up on polar bears as their poster child. Somebody must have tipped them off that polar bears eat baby seals…
__________________________________________________________________________
There was also this one
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/07/now-its-co2-killing-nemo/
It may be time to resurrect a strategy I suggested quite a while back. It involved an organized effort to report the purveyors of this terrorizing propaganda to local Child Services agencies across the country as serial child abusers. Reports of children needing to undergo therapy as a consequence of all the doom mongering they are exposed to have been ever more frequent over recent years and, given the shoddy basis of most this nonsense, the continued targeting of the most vulnerable clearly constitutes child abuse in my book.

chris1958

Sorry to say it folks but the concept has face validity. Much however would depend on the ability of the clownfish to maintain homoeostasis in a lower pH environment or to upregulate/downregulate GABA and allied receptor systems. A human who cannot maintain a pH within the normal range of 7.35 to 7.45 becomes quite unwell. Usually the problem is acidosis (ie, a lower than normal pH) with decidedly adverse effects on the central nervous system include anxiety, irritability, and sometimes delirium and confusion. A human with a pH of 7.0 (ie, chemically neutral) can be very sick. So as with humans, so too with fish.

Alex the skeptic

The real clowns were wearing white lab coats.

Alex the skeptic

Now that the warmists have lost the scientific argument on AGW and all its variant acronyms, they need another bogeyman to try to keep alive their hopes, cushy jobs, incomes, investments in green technologies, carbon credits and ploitical credibility. Ocean acidification, which is not happening since at worst what we may remotely have is reduced alkalinity is now being banded about, reported in the main stream media instead of global warming to try to scare us into subission. Hence the Hollywoodian clownfish.

Alex the skeptic

Land-based life has already seen a rise in atmospheric CO2 of about 140ppmv during the past decades; from approx 250 to 390 ppmv. Did we humans have experienced any effect on our bodies? I have never seen any report that says so. Not even on smallest of vertebrates. Not on insects, microbial life or any type of terrestrial life.
This steady increase in atmospheric CO2 should impact on the oceans, according to Henry’s law, by increasing the dissolved CO2 according to this law. However, since global warming also heats the oceans, then CO2 is released from the oceans at these higher temperatures. Meanwhile, the oceans contain 50 times the CO2 in the atmosphere, which could mean that global warming releases more CO2 than is dissolved when the planet heats up due to increased atmospheric CO2. However we are not even sure if increasing atmospheric CO2 causes global warming or the other way round, that global warming causes release of CO2 from the oceans.
I an scientifically convinced that the clown-fish species will outlive the AGW theorist species.

Joachim Seifert

…..the clown fish gets clownier….. enhancing his performance…..whats wrong with it?
Well, if the sea cucumber would get clowny that would be different….

Dave

The skeptic is alive and well in me but my inquiring mind needs satiating. I know the Clown fish will be here long after we humans have gone.
Can one of the great commentator’s or Anthony help with my question.
I’m sure a lot of readers may have had the same questions?
In the pre-Industrial times the atmosphere contained 260 parts / million of CO2
Present day = 2012 the atmosphere contained 390 parts / million of CO2
The Clown fish report indicates: The pair reared clown fish (Amphiprion percula) larvae in seawater with normal (450 microatmospheres) and elevated (900 microatmospheres) CO2 levels.
Here is my question: Using the reasoning and calculations of the Researchers from the Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University
1. When the the atmosphere contained 260 parts / million of CO2 (pCO2) how many microatmospheres would have been present or measured on the ocean?
2. The Researchers indicated: Seawater with NORMAL 450 microatmospheres would that be at 260 parts / million of CO2 in the atmosphere OR the present day atmosphere readings contained 390 parts / million of CO2. What did they consider a normal CO2 atmospheric level as there baseline?
3. The Researchers indicated: Seawater with ELEVATED 900 microatmospheres CO2 levels. What would the atmosphere CO2 parts / million be to achieve this level in the ocean?
4. How does one calculate OR cross relate microatmospheres CO2 in relation to atmospheric CO2 parts/ million.
Thanks for the help.
Dave.

Mike McMillan

I’m glad to see the black header image. WUWT is on their list.