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Bottom Feeders Acting as Carbon Sinks
By Ian Seldrup, June 10, 2014 @ 04:30 AM (EST)
Source: Environmental News Network

UK-based researchers from the Marine Institute and the University of Southampton have discovered that deep-sea fish act as carbon sinks, doing their part in the fight against global warming. They estimate that in excess of a million tons of carbon dioxide may be captured by bottom-feeding species in UK and Irish waters.

The scientists outline a process whereby so-called mid-level swimming fish feed near the surface and dive to deeper waters, where they become prey for bigger sea-floor dwellers. In this way, the carbon stored in the prey animals transfers to the fish that feed on the ocean floor—and largely remains there. Even when predator bottom dwellers die, they tend to be gobbled up by other deep water fish. The findings were obtained by studying muscle tissue samples from fish caught in trawls off the Irish coast at different depths (500–1,800 meters).

The work underlines another reason for putting a stop to unregulated fishing and overfishing. Such practices threaten bottom-feeding species’ ability to act as carbon sinks, since the carbon stored in these fish is released when they are swept up and killed by trawler nets.

Read more here.

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