Antifreeze fish

Has your car ever run out of antifreeze at the wrong moment, resulting in you having to rummage around in the garage or your boot to top it up while grumbling about how cold it is outside?

Well, one group of fish will never have to worry about this problem.

Yes, we know that no fish will ever have this problem because none of them – to our knowledge – are drivers, but that’s not what we meant.

These particular fish, the notothenioids, live in sub-zero waters in the Antarctic and have developed what is being called ‘natural antifreeze’ in their bodies which makes them able to survive the devastatingly cold temperatures they swim in.

There are more than 120 of these ‘antifreeze’ fish species and they have managed to live for millions of years and through the ice age that killed many other fish that hadn’t adapted well enough to the cold.

Worryingly though, these marine animals have adapted themselves so well to the cold that if climate change increases the temperatures of their water too much, they’re unlikely to survive.

So, the next time you top up the antifreeze in your car, think of these strange Antarctic fish and drive in an economical way to help reduce your carbon footprint. The notothenioids would thank you if they could.

Photo © NOAA Photo Library via Flickr, under Creative Commons Licence

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