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Global warming could stunt growth of fish

Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012

By 2050, fish could lose up to 24 percent of their body mass because of climate change, according to a study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Warm water can hold less oxygen, reducing the levels available for fish to breathe.

"As the fish grow bigger and bigger, it will be difficult to get enough oxygen for growth. There is more demand for oxygen as the body grows. At some point, the fish will stop growing," said lead author William Cheung of the University of British Columbia.

Average maximum fish girth is likely to decrease by 24 percent in the Indian Ocean, 20 percent in the Atlantic Ocean and 14 percent in the Pacific Ocean.

Reductions in body size could have widespread impacts on ecosystems, he added.

For example, predator fish that rely on their body mass to swallow prey whole may lose some of their intimidation factor, which means smaller species may have more of a fighting chance.

"Cod ... can only eat fish that can fit into their mouth. They are not like lions or tigers" that can attack animals that are larger than they are, he said (Alister Doyle,  Reuters, Sept. 30). -- MBI

Reprinted from ClimateWire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. 202-628-6500


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