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article imageAcidic waters affecting shark behaviors

By Tim Sandle     Aug 17, 2014 in Environment
Atlanta - Sharks rely heavily on their sense of smell to locate prey in the word's waters. A new study argues that their honing ability is affected as waters are becoming increasingly acidic.
Data suggests, IFL Science reveals, that ocean waters are becoming increasingly acidic as they absorb the atmospheric carbon dioxide released by human activities. Based on this, a new study has examined the effects of ocean acidification on the odor-tracking ability of sharks to locate prey.
To look at this, researchers exposed sharks to waters with current ocean carbon dioxide levels for five days, and to the elevated carbon dioxide concentrations predicted to occur by mid- and late-century.
Once the carbon dioxide levels were set, sharks were released into a pool where a “squid juice” odor attractant was dispensed. Here shark tracking and attack behaviors were monitored. The researchers found that sharks exposed to the highest carbon dioxide levels significantly avoided, rather than gravitated toward, the prey odor cues and attacked food less aggressively.
Given that feeding behaviors are critical for shark survival, the researchers conclude that ocean acidification could have far-reaching effects on already threatened shark populations and subsequent, cascading effects on marine ecosystems. Currently, One-third of oceanic shark species are threatened by extinction, with 64 of them on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (ICUN) Red List.
The research was led by led by Danielle Dixson from Georgia Institute of Technology. The findings have been reported to the journal Global Change Biology, in a paper titled "Odor tracking in sharks is reduced under future ocean acidification conditions".
More about acid water, Sharks, Global warming
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