Feeds

Ecopocalypse causes giant fish ears

First Vulcans, then Obama, now les poissons

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

Under the sea, fish are growing abnormally large ear bones - and it's all our fault.

According to a study published Friday in the prestigious journal Science, boffins at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at San Diego's University of California have discovered that rising carbon dioxide concentrations in the world's oceans are causing sea bass to grow oversized otoliths - that's boffinspeak for ear bones.

And what causes rising carbon dioxide levels? You guessed it: we humans.

A Scripps statement blames "human activities, particularly fossil fuel burning" for causing "both increased ocean CO2 and ocean acidification."

For the aforementioned bass, big ear bones may be no laughing matter. "Otoliths serve a vital function in fish," says Scripps, "by helping them sense orientation and acceleration."

David Checkley, a Scripps professor and lead author of the study, admits that "At this point one doesn't know what the effects are in terms of anything damaging to the behavior or the survival of the fish with larger otoliths." He adds, however, that "The assumption is that anything that departs significantly from normality is an abnormality and abnormalities at least have the potential for having deleterious effects."

The seafaring researchers plan further studies to determine if the same deformities are occurring in fish other than the sea bass and whether being otolithically big-boned affects a fish's survival and behavior.

"If fish can do just fine or better with larger otoliths then there's no great concern," says Checkley. "But fish have evolved to have their bodies the way they are. The assumption is that if you tweak them in a certain way it's going to change the dynamics of how the otolith helps the fish stay upright, navigate and survive."

We can only hope that the ocean's finned folk never learn of our complicity in their predicament. The briny deep is already a dangerous enough place without it being stocked with billions of enraged - if clumsy - smelt, scrod, grunts, and grunions. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away
Interplanetary admins will back up data and get to work
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
Volcanic eruption in Iceland triggers CODE RED aviation warning
Lava-spitting Bárðarbunga prompts action from Met Office
LOHAN Kickstarter breaks NINETEEN THOUSAND of your EARTH POUNDS
That's right, OVER 9,000 beer tokens - and counting
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.