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Salmon rely on a strong sense of smell to follow migration patterns, find food, and avoid predators. This strong sense of smell is apparently in trouble due to carbon emissions that are being absorbed by the ocean.
Researchers from the University of Washington and NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center have found that carbon emissions that are changing the chemistry of the ocean are also affecting salmon senses.
Specifically, the increased levels of CO2 in the water lead to ocean acidification which lowers the pH of the water. According to Chase Williams, a researcher, “Salmon famously use their nose for so many important aspects of their life, from navigation and finding food to detecting predators and reproducing. So it was important for us to know if salmon would be impacted by future carbon dioxide conditions in the marine environment. “
Evan Gallagher, another lead on the project mentioned, “Our studies and research from other groups have shown that exposure to pollutants can also interfere with sense of smell for salmon. Now, salmon are potentially facing a one-two punch from exposure to pollutants and the added burden of rising CO2. These have implications for the long-term survival of our salmon.”
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