Reef fish find it too hot to swim

27 November 2013 6:48 AM

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Updated: 17:47, Wednesday November 27, 2013

With concerns that humans are turning into couch potatoes, it seems our fishy friends may be in the same boat.

A study has found large reef fish are becoming more lethargic as oceans warm up.

James Cook University researcher Dr Jacob Johansen says the fish are spending more time resting at the sea bottom and less time swimming or reproducing.

Even when they muster up enough energy to swim around, they swim at a much slower rate, he says.

'The loss of swimming performance and reduced ability to maintain important activities, like moving to a spawning site to reproduce, could have major implications for the future distribution and abundance of these species,' Dr Johansen said in a statement.

However, the study showed evidence that coral trout might be able to adapt to rising temperatures.

Dr Johansen said populations from the northern Great Barrier Reef were a little better than southern populations at tolerating warmer waters.

'Coral trout is one of the most important fisheries in the southeast Pacific. If we want to keep this fishery in the future, it is critical that we understand how global warming may impact the species,' he said.

The study results have been published in the journal Global Change Biology.


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