Study: Stressed Fish More Likely to Die If You Also Half Cook Them

Coral Grouper

Coral Grouper. By Richard Ling from NSW, Australia – Coral Trout, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

James Cook University researchers have discovered if you heat fish above their natural tolerance range while mistreating them (simulating catch and release), a lot of them drop dead.

Rising temperatures may drive fishing-induced selection of low-performance phenotypes

Climate warming is likely to interact with other stressors to challenge the physiological capacities and survival of phenotypes within populations. This may be especially true for the billions of fishes per year that undergo vigorous exercise prior to escaping or being intentionally released from fishing gear. Using adult coral grouper (Plectropomus leopardus), an important fisheries species throughout the Indo-Pacific, we show that population-level survival following vigorous exercise is increasingly compromised as temperatures increase from current-day levels (100–67% survival at 24–30 °C) to those projected for the end of the century (42% survival at 33 °C). Intriguingly, we demonstrate that high-performance individuals take longer to recover to a resting metabolic state and subsequently have lower survival in warm water compared with conspecifics that exercise less vigorously. Moreover, we show that post-exercise mortality of high-performance phenotypes manifests after 3–13 d at the current summer maximum (30 °C), while mortality at 33 °C occurs within 1.8–14.9 h. We propose that wild populations in a warming climate may become skewed towards low-performance phenotypes with ramifications for predator-prey interactions and community dynamics. Our findings highlight the susceptibility of phenotypic diversity to fishing activities and demonstrate a mechanism that may contribute to fishing-induced evolution in the face of ongoing climate change.

Read more: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep40571

I have no doubt overheating already stressed fish causes higher mortality, and fish which “fight” harder (exhibit more stress) are more likely to die. But the inference that this will skew species towards low-performance phenotypes seems absurd.

Even assuming the world does warm as predicted, if tropical waters become too warm for some species, and for whatever reason those species have trouble adapting, they affected species will simply migrate to feeding grounds which are a few hundred miles further away from the equator, until they find their optimum temperature range.

Advertisements

99 thoughts on “Study: Stressed Fish More Likely to Die If You Also Half Cook Them

  1. Even assuming the world does warm as predicted, if tropical waters become too warm for some species, and for whatever reason those species have trouble adapting, they affected species will simply migrate to feeding grounds which are a few hundred miles further away from the equator, until they find their optimum temperature range.

    “You can never change just one thing.” Alarmists, though supposedly ecologists, often fail to bear that key ecological principal in mind when the CO2 level changes. They instinctively tend to think only of first-order effects, as long as they’re negative..

    • Secondly they assume that of all the possible adaptations, they know which one species will select for.

      • More often, they make the assumption that species won’t make even the most basic of survival measures, such as moving into a new area that has just been opened up by the warming.

      • By the same token, they assume that the population of low-lying coastal areas such as Bangladesh will just stand there and drown as the sea levels rise . . .

      • Well the Elephant and cow populations of Bangladesh will survive by going UPHILL instead of out on the tidal flats.

        Well cows and elephants aren’t as stupid as humans.

        g

    • Roger Knights:
      “… when the CO2 level changes. They instinctively tend to think only of first-order effects, as long as they’re negative..”

      I confess that I think of the negative first-order effect of a downward CO2 change below some threshold under which all fish, and all life will perish. The carbon cycle of life cannot complete without carbon dioxide. We know that level is somewhere between 0.035% and 0.0%.

  2. I’ve also heard that hooks are bad for them, especially if someone uses those hooks to take them out of the water and carry them home.

    • :I’ve also heard that hooks are bad for them, especially if someone uses those hooks to take them out of the water and carry them home.”
      And sometimes they even die BEFORE they get cooked in that situation!

    • Something I have often noticed is that they say the believe in evolution. In other words, that evolution is something that brought about the present day. But they are adamant that further evolution mustn’t be allowed. I other words, they don’t want any more species to die of to make room for future species.

  3. Is this more bad science or is it the new fake science news from the psych ops teams? Maybe Yale and James Mason Univ. can tell us.

  4. So they go from water temperatures of 24–30 °C to those “projected for the end of the century [..]33 °C”. (And all while Trenberth is looking for ocean changes of ~0.1 °C or less in a vain attempt to find the missing heat?).

    This “study” is actually quite typical of some of the worse papers you see in the biochemical/medical literature: They may get no measureable response to a drug/compound when applied in a reasonable realistic dose (we’re talking cells here, not people). So what do they do? They simply increase the dose way beyond physiologically reasonable or achievable levels until, by golly, they do get a response. It will probably be wholly irrelevant from a scientific standpoint, but they will have got some ‘result’ which they can then publish and pretend is meaningful.

    • Sounds like most cancer studies.
      They give such high levels that 50% (LD50) of the subject mice die from the toxicity of the compound.
      Then they look for cancer in the surviving mice.

    • It’s the application of Fudd’s First Law of Opposition:

      “If you push something hard enough it will fall over!”

      FJ Fudd, sometime in the early 1950’s

    • Now 24C (72F) water is suitable for most aquatic life ….. and 30C (86F) water is part-time tolerable for most aquatic life …… but now 33C (91F) water is not long-time tolerable for most aquatic life simply because …. as water temperature rises, oxygen (O2) solubility decreases …… and the fishies start dying due to asphyxiation.

      And ps, the resident high altitude and/or northern latitude (>37 degrees) aquatic life is quite happy with the “seasonal” temperature changes in their water environment that ranges from 33F in wintertime to 86F in summertime.

      • That is not completely right. Among the desert carp, there are some which can live in temperatures of 32 to 38 ° C, namely permanently, e.g. The Devil’s Pitcher, living in the Devil’s Hole, Ash Meadows, Nevada. There are many other types of desert carps that can tolerate even temperatures from 0 ° C to 40 ° C without any problems. Obviously it is just a matter of adoptions. Since the desert carp can withstand high salt concentrations in normal times as well as precipitation thinning salt concentrations, they could easily live in the sea. However, the question arises as to which amount of heat is necessary to permanently raise the upper limit of the surface temperatures of the currently warmest parts of the sea from about 30 degrees C to 33 degrees Celsius. Surely more than the predicted global warming of the next 200 years in the worst scenarios. Short-term surface heating during the highest heat level during the day can not be equated with the permanent heating of the first 20 meters of the ocean. In the warmest seasons, fish would not only have the possibility of geographic but also of vertical migration. Which, moreover, has always existed. In an aquarium, of course, this possibility does not exist.

  5. Did they really say –

    [quote]billions of fishes per year[/quote]

    – and still claim to be from a university?

  6. ” Even assuming the world does warm as predicted, if tropical waters become too warm for some species, and for whatever reason those species have trouble adapting, they affected species will simply migrate to feeding grounds which are a few hundred miles further away from the equator, until they find their optimum temperature range. ”

    ( just like humans , as we have always adapted to live in an environment to suit our capability to survive.)

  7. All of my fishing experience is in lakes and inland rivers. Those fish can’t really migrate. On the other hand, most of the fish I ever caught were probably the product of a fish hatchery. So, if the lakes do warm up, we have the infrastructure to change the fish. Could it really be that easy? Probably not.

  8. “We propose that wild populations in a warming climate may become skewed towards low-performance phenotypes”

    Just as likely:
    Wild populations will become skewed towards individuals that are better adapted to the higher temperature.

    • exactly Mark….they are assuming their range and habitat will shrink
      …and have no idea what circumtropical means

    • MarkW: Your quote inadvertently explains what has happened at James Cook University. Warming climate, whether real or fabricated, has indeed skewed the academic population towards low-performance professors.

    • “We propose that wild populations in a warming climate may become skewed towards low-performance phenotypes”
      which then makes them high-performance phenotypes!
      So higher temperatures save lives of “low-performance phenotypes”?
      And why not just call them fish? Not enough syllables I guess.

    • “We propose that wild alarmists in a warming climate may become skewed towards low-performance phenotypes”

      FIFY

  9. If this is true then how come there is such a huge industry catching them, keeping the Coral Trout alive and flying them to Restaurants in Australia and overseas?

    • Sorry, should have mentioned alternative facts.
      When I catch Coral Trout in Hervey Bay, Qld, and if they are over the legal minimum then there is a 100% death rate as they enter my ice slurry. Delicious to eat!

  10. This is not science, this is ‘science communication’ at work, i.e. science flavoured propaganda.

    The cult of ‘science communication’ seemed like a good idea, explaining scientific research to the wider community, and there some excellent examples of such work but by the same token it enables the ‘sexing up’of work that is utterly banal at best and utter crap at worst. The schlok in question is at the latter end of the spectrum imo.

    Unfortunately the dynamics of research funding, university ratings and other controlling or influencing factors is utterly distorting the decision making at universities for the worse in objective, scientific terms.

  11. I did find these data interesting. The connection to climate change was impertinent. So many other things could confound the question. What trout or muskie fisherman doesn’t know that catch and release is more dangerous for the fish survival when the water is warmer? I wish I could get paid to write goofy stuff. Thanks for keeping us abreast of academic nonsense.

    • Agree Steve. Releasing any trout any time is iffy, but far worse when warm. Other species (catfish, carp etc.) are tougher than nails. What bothered me most about the article was equating an angling battle with “exercise”. Fish can be totally exhausted after being hooked and fought for periods longer than a few minutes. Exertion of this magnitude would be rare in the wild, so equating fishing with predation is stupid. Most predation is virtually instantaneous in aquatic environments, and you are either lunch or free to swim another day. Some predatory species do “herd” their prey, but this is effective only in prey species that school in large numbers. More nonsense from arm chair academics.

  12. Where in the world are they expecting water temperatures of 33°C (91°F)? Except in protected shallow bays and lagoons, the temperature drops very quickly when you go down a few meters. As a diver, I’d love to find a reef at even 29°C so I could ditch the wetsuit. So far, no such luck.

  13. Assuming any of their suppositions are true, isn’t it likely that the same effect will happen with the predator species? And thus the net effect will be negligible?

    • If you wind a boa constrictor big enough around you, you will probably find out if it is hungry or not.

      Also swimming on top of a large sting ray may not be a good idea.

      g

  14. Why don’t these so-called “researchers” ever consider that fish have survived admirably through many warm periods in the past. I suppose they have to keep the funding coming by doing studies supporting AGW, but no one is learning anything from these “studies”, science is not advancing. So much for thinking researchers would be above this, but i guess its difficult to advance a career without pandering.

    • The pursuit of science was in a better way when it was largely a hobby of the independently wealthy and a side project of military officers. The 20th century concept of scientist-as-career has made the discipline much more vulnerable to conflicts-of-interest, political advocacy, and economic pressures.

  15. “We propose that wild populations in a warming climate may become skewed towards low-performance phenotypes with ramifications for predator-prey interactions and community dynamics”

    The hotter it gets the lazier I get too!

  16. I love that title! My laugh for day!

    For some reason climate change believers think animals can only live in their current zip code and if they are not found there, they’re dead. Moving kills all creatures. Except humans, though I do think one day if a person changes zip codes, they will be called dead and all “ghost” towns will be where humans became “extinct”.

  17. If I normally lived and exercised at a temeprature in the mid-high 20 deg C I would be quite used to it … if I did the same at a temperature of 34deg C with no time to acclimatise I would probably be, to use an English colloquialism, knackered. But give me a few weeks to get used to the 34 deg C and I’d be fine

    So how much time did these researchers keep the fish at 34 deg C before putting them through the exercise stress ? I have a nasty feeling that they didn’t bother.

  18. I understand if you drop them off a 10 storiey they also do not do well, to prove this I am willing to take the short of ‘research’ funding the authors of these ‘study’ did .

  19. Are these researchers really suggesting that climate change is turning the Theory of Evolution on its head. It is now survival of the weakest?

    Bizarrely that is what seems to be happening with scientists in climate science. Maybe that’s where they got the idea.

    • Are we allowed to debate the Theory of Evolution yet?

      ‘Survival of the fittest’ is not accurate in that species do not continue to evolve into super beings if not necessary. Rather, it’s the survival of the weakest that the environment allows. Those ‘weakest’ members of the population, that can still survive, continue to pass along their traits in the population.

      If the prominent axiom of your theory is known as the “missing link”, you know you’re dealing with “settled science”. Just like the ‘missing link’ that CO2 causes warming. Settled science does not allow for advancements within the theory the way that actual science does.

      • Homer – it can be dangerous to directly confront their fixed delusion. Proceed with caution.

  20. Surprised this is not front page news.

    Climate Change overturns the Theory of Evolution. It is now survival of the weakest. Kind of like how it is with scientists in climate science.

  21. Besides a tendency towards the nonsensical, this study gives data showing that the GBR is being exploited far beyond reason. “1,350 tonnes of coral grouper are caught and retained annually by the commercial sector on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) alone “….. that’s almost 3 Million pounds of grouper. Worse, “The number of coral grouper caught-and-released annually by the Australian recreational sector is unknown, although it is likely to be at least as high as the estimated commercial fishery discard rates (200,000–600,000 fish per year).”

    The bottom line is that if they wish to preserve the Spotted grouper on the GBR, they should ban catch-and-release altogether (they already suspect that catch-and-release results in 80% mortality: “For fishes that undergo vigorous exercise during fisheries capture but are subsequently released ….more than 80% of individuals may ultimately die. “).

    The odd thing about the study is that fish capable of very strenuous exercise are the ones that later die in hot water.

    A weakness of the study is that it is not about fish that have been bred in warmer water, which should be the standard here, since they are testing a future hypothesis many fish generations in the future.

    So we have found that grouper, a lazy fish that swims rapidly only for a few seconds at a time in normal circumstances, if moved to water far above the temperatures it has grown up in, and harassed into swimming full panic speed for three minutes (which would give me a heart attack…) — under these circumstances that represent cruelty to animals — those fish in the hottest water that exercised the hardest, suffered increased mortality.

    The same happens with humans, by the way, if forced to excessive panic-driven exercise under conditions far hotter than they are accustomed.

    • “A weakness of the study is that it is not about fish that have been bred in warmer water, which should be the standard here, since they are testing a future hypothesis many fish generations in the future.”
      Good point Kip, I wonder if Eskimos transplanted to the Sahara have a higher rate of heat stroke than the locals?
      Better get a grant to study this.

  22. https://www.amazon.com/Anova-Culinary-PCB-120US-K1-Bluetooth-Precision/dp/B00UKPBXM4/ref=sr_1_5?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1485204003&sr=1-5&keywords=sous+vide
    Perhaps they should try cooking there fish with this sous vide immersion indicator. The specifications say it can control temperature to within 0.01C. They should cook two batches and increase the temperature by 0.01C between batches. See if they can taste any difference. A shame to let all that delicious fish go to waste.

  23. And this is called research – using taxpayer dollars? Time to rename the institution “James Crook University”

  24. I would like a 5 billion dollar grant to study the impact of type “O” blood type on the global population in the year 2097. “97”
    Get it?

  25. And then there’s the Persian/Arabian Gulf. Water temperatures there are quite warm, yet there are fish. There would be lots more of them if they weren’t over-harvested. Oh, and they have living coral reefs there, too!

  26. For fishes that undergo vigorous exercise during fisheries capture but are subsequently released ….more than 80% of individuals may ultimately die.

    Ultimately? What kind of time frame are we talking about here?

    Because 100% of the pets I had as a child ULTIMATELY died, some just took a decade or two to do so. ~¿~

  27. Summary of climate science biologist, (applies to all living things)
    Torture something once; compare results to torturing something twice.
    Observe the later has a higher mortality rate.
    Conclude Global Warming BS.

  28. I have studied warm water fish for decades, and would need to review some physiology, but I think they do some nit-picking about what causes the problems. The internal particulars seem beside the point along with a too long selective introduction. These papers are so predictable. I guess all the money goes now to studying heat and its bad effects, but their temperatures are hardly very extreme. Real science would study the whole temperature regime, and there seems to be a cold front just past the Bahamas. I may have missed something, but are there proper controls? They note the extensive mortality (amount?) from fishing which I guess is the reason to suggest a phenotypic effect, but there has to be some genetics, among other factors, possible. I just lost access to the paper so I have an excuse to be stupid, but I would not have done it this way. Didn’t they say something about air saturation, presume that means equilibrium, less oxygen with temperature?

    On the northern Gulf of Mexico coast non-biological mortality in fishes in general comes mostly from extremes. All these mostly sublethal effects they measured are small relative to cold and predation, human and otherwise. A few shallow water fishes here do have problems when caught in shallow waters with temperatures above 35C. Severe killing freezes have become more rare, none since 1989. I have a photo of a max/min thermometer in December 1983 showing 10C, lots of ice and dead fish around. In 1899 blocks of ice passed New Orleans into the Gulf two days later. Wouldn’t increasing temperatures extend the range of coral and coral critters?

    It is interesting that the Ethics Committee allowed harassment instead of more standard respiratory systems to measure stress. They do offer a comment section, but I doubt if it would be useful because this more a generic problem.

  29. Don’t worry, this is from JCU in Queensland where most people believe that day light saving will cause cows milk to go sour, seriously! Australia, the stupid country.

  30. Ah yes, another imaginary “What if” that people actually got paid for.
    Research allegedly discovered:

    “Using adult coral grouper (Plectropomus leopardus), an important fisheries species throughout the Indo-Pacific, we show that population-level survival following vigorous exercise is increasingly compromised as temperatures increase from current-day levels (100–67% survival at 24–30 °C) to those projected for the end of the century (42% survival at 33 °C)”

    There you go. Ocean waters are going to warm at least 3°C. And NOAA’s stunning joules paper equates to what something like 0.0165°C per decade or so?

    From “SCRFA – an international science & conservation NGO

    “The coral trout, otherwise known as the leopard coral grouper, is distributed across the western Pacific from southern Japan to southern Queensland, west to Lombok, Indonesia and Western Australia, and east to Caroline Islands and Fiji; occurring at depths of 3 to 100m. It is listed as near threatened in the IUCN red list (Assessed in 2004). Plectropomus leopardus is a medium-sized diurnally active grouper easily observed underwater”

    Not only the top layer of water is going to warm 3°C, but the oceans will do so to a depth of 100 meters?

    Imaginary science.
    Imaginary problem.
    Assumptions regarding temperature.
    Assumptions regarding fish.
    Assumptions regarding fisherpeople.
    Magical warming of surface waters.

    Groupers tend to live in, near and around structure, often reefs.
    Commercial fisherpeople are unable to trawl grouper up easily. Reefs are unfriendly to most commercial gear.

    Existing populations of groupers easily locate to deeper structure when dealing with water quality and temperature changes.
    e.g. in the Gulf of Mexico, when seriously cold weather fronts swing through and radically change temperatures colder; most of the filled killed by low temperatures are warm water fish caught in the bayou shallows.
    The same fish species in deeper waters are able to locate preferred water temperatures.

    Fish counting science is still archaic at best. With groupers, trawling the fish for a count survey just doesn’t work. Groupers’ spawn over the reefs so the fish can’t be counted easily then and completely opposite to what researchers claim, groupers are not easy to sight or count.

  31. The article may well be a precursor to further restrictions on recreational fishing, as if the extensive increases in Marine Parks around Australia, surrendered by Juliar Gillard to the Greens, so that Labor could form a minority government, are not enough.
    There is a sufficient number of long words in the article to lead your average politician to believe that the work is scientifically sound.

    • See! Anthropogenic Warming Change kills ants!
      Oh woe oh woe.
      Send money to assuage your guilt if you are a carbon-based life-form.

  32. The ONLY way to check things like that is by checking on young fish being raised for a couple of generations in gradually hotter and hotter environment.
    To fry these poor fish who were evolved to lower temps is not science but just cruelty.

  33. “Introduction

    Anthropogenic carbon emissions and modified land use have directly contributed to increases in the surface temperature of the planet since the beginning of the industrial revolution1. Aquatic systems have absorbed the majority of the excess heat added to the atmosphere, which has led to a warming of the global sea surface by 0.4 °C in the past century with an additional 0.6–2.0 °C expected by 2100.”
    ___________________________________________

    That’s not science, it’s just empty cabinets and recycle residues before shredding and closing.

Comments are closed.