Climate change’s latest casualty appears to be fish — or more specifically, fish brains — as researchers say the carbon dioxide that’s being absorbed into the ocean is causing the scaly creatures to lose their survival instincts.
In other words, the fish are losing their minds, The Daily Mail reported.
The acid from atmospheric carbon dioxide seeps into sea waters, dissolves and ultimately lowers the pH balance, researchers said. The acidic waters then hamper the fishes’ sensory systems, so they’re not able to distinguish between smells any longer, the scientists went on.
When the acid levels get really high, the fish lose their GABAA receptive powers — a specific piece of DNA that’s in most marine life forms that guides their nervous systems. Without GABAA, neurons don’t properly fire — and thus, the fish lose their full brain capacities, researchers concluded, The Daily Mail reported.
“They can smell, but they can’t distinguish between chemical cues,” said Danielle Dixson, an assistant professor in the School of Biology at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Scientists published the findings in the April 13 edition of the Advance Online Publication of the journal Nature Climate Change.
Researchers say they still need to see if fish could adapt and overcome in highly acidic waters.
“It’s a step in the right direction in terms of answering ocean acidification problems,” Ms. Dixson said of the report, according to The Daily Mail. “At least now we might prepare for what might be happening.”