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Aquatic Animals Shrink as Oceans Warm

Global warming is causing aquatic animals to shrink – up to 10 times more than land-dwellers. That’s the conclusion of a major study of animals from land, freshwaters and the ocean.

Scientists from the University of London studies 169 animals of all three kinds and concluded that as the oceans are warming, so the aquatic animals are shrinking in size. [readon]

“Aquatic animals shrink 10 times more than land-dwellers in species the size of large insects or small fish,” said co-author Dr. Andrew Hirst.

The reason is to do with how the aquatic animals access oxygen. The scientists explain that warming increases the need for oxygen both on land and in water, but that aquatic species have a much harder job meeting this increased demand. So, reducing the size at which they mature is the best way for aquatic animals to balance oxygen supply and demand.

Lead author Dr. Jack Forster said that since fish are such a large part of the human food supply, “our work highlights the importance of understanding how warming in the future will affect ocean, lake and river dwelling species.”

Also true would be the fact that it’s no fun for the fish, either. 

The study is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).