The increasing acidification of ocean waters caused by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels could rob sharks of their ability to sense the smell of food, a new study suggests.
Elevated carbon dioxide levels impaired the odor-tracking behavior of the smooth dogfish, a shark whose range includes the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern United States. Adult sharks significantly avoided squid odor after swimming in a pool of water treated with carbon dioxide. The carbon dioxide concentrations tested are consistent with climate forecasts for midcentury and 2100. The study suggests that predator-prey interactions in nature could be influenced by elevated carbon dioxide concentrations of ocean waters.