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Pink salmon risk double dose of acidification, in rivers and sea

Mon 29th June, 2015 4:00pm
By Alister Doyle 
    OSLO, June 29 (Reuters) - Pink salmon in the Pacific Ocean 
face a double threat of acidification linked to greenhouse gas 
emissions since it slows their early growth in rivers and 
disrupts the chemistry of seawater, a study showed on Monday. 
    Impacts have in the past been more studied in the seas than 
in fresh water. But the Canadian study found that acidification 
of rivers could make young pink salmon, the most abundant type 
in the Pacific, smaller and more vulnerable to predators by 
dampening their ability to smell danger. 
    Damage done by acidification "in fresh water in pink salmon 
could occur in all other salmonids", Colin Brauner, a co-author 
at the University of British Columbia, told Reuters. The 
findings were published in the journal Nature Climate Change. 
    Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas caused by burning 
fossil fuels, reacts with water to produce a weak acid. That 
especially threatens creatures ranging from oysters to lobsters 
which find it harder to build protective shells. 
    An international study in 2013 said acidification of the 
oceans was happening at the fastest pace for 55 million years, 
because of human greenhouse gas emissions. 
    In the Canadian experiments, pink salmon grew on average to 
only about 32 mm (1.26 inches) after 10 weeks, when raised in 
waters with roughly double current carbon dioxide 
concentrations, shorter than the 34 mm in waters with current 
    The young fish also weighed less and appeared less able to 
smell danger. Brauner said it was too early to say if the 
disruptions would last into adulthood and mean smaller 
commercial catches. 
    Scientists say is unclear how far salmon, and other marine 
life, may adapt or evolve in future generations to cope with 
rising levels of carbon dioxide. 
 (Editing by Andrew Roche) 
 ((alister.doyle@thomsonreuters.com; +47 4683 74 83;)) 
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