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New study reveals big challenge for little local squid

04 December 2019

A new study by marine researchers from Museum of Tropical Queensland and James Cook University has revealed how rising carbon dioxide levels in the ocean will almost halve the reproduction output of a unique species of squid.

The two-toned pygmy squid, Idiosepius pygmaeus, grows up to 2cm long, weighs just 0.175g and is found locally at the mouth of Ross Creek in Townsville, in shallow water bodies and inshore.

This tiny ocean inhabitant plays a vital part in marine ecosystem and is already under threat from domestic and urban pollution and waste water.

Queensland Museum Network CEO Dr Jim Thompson said the research project is another great example of cross-collaboration between Museum of Tropical Queensland and marine research organisations.

“The subject of the research may be no bigger than a thumbnail, but the research and findings certainly has the potential to represent something much, much larger,” Dr Thompson said.

Minister for Arts and Minister for Science Leeanne Enoch said this new research will really help in the conservation of our unique marine species and marine environments.

“The Queensland Museum Network is involved in some great scientific work in Queensland and this new collaborative research is a testament to that,” Ms Enoch said.

 “Collaborative research highlights the important role of museums not just in the past but into the future as we look at how we can work together to identify problems and find solutions to challenges.”

The research collaboration between Museum of Tropical Queensland, James Cook University’s College of Science and Engineering and ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies reveals the distinct connection between rising carbon dioxide levels and the effect they can potentially have on marine species.

Museum of Tropical Queensland, Senior Curator, Marine Invertebrates Dr Sue-Ann Watson said the study showed that if we continue ‘business as usual’ carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere, that it will eventually impair reproduction and embryo development in the pygmy squid.

“By the end of the century, if carbon dioxide emissions continue at the current rate, the pygmy squid will lay 40 percent fewer eggs in each clutch,” Dr Watson said.

“Eggs will also be closer together, so there is likely to be less oxygen available for each egg. The amount of yolk in each egg will be less, therefore hatchlings will be smaller and likeliness of survival once hatched may be reduced.”

The research, published recently in Marine Environmental Research also discusses the potential for the pygmy squid to adapt to future ocean conditions, and how this should be a priority for future research.

Media Contact: Andrea Hughes

(07) 4726 0604 or 0497 347 117 andrea.hughes@qm.qld.gov.au

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