Clovefish is the first warm-blooded fish known to science, an unusual feature that gives it a competitive edge in the cold depths of the ocean, explains a study published in the journal Science.
The fish is the size of a tire and can be heated in the same way as a car’s radiator, the researchers told the notorious magazine. The fact of having the blood vessels in the gills leads them to carry warm blood from the core of the body. These blood vessels involve other vessels near the gills, where the fish breathe, bringing back cold, oxygenated blood.
The result is an autonomous heating system that keeps the fish’s brain sharp and its muscles active, so it can swim fast and eat its prey.
“Before this discovery, I had the impression that it was a slow fish, like most other fishes in cold environments,” explained one of the study’s authors, Nicholas Wegner of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
By monitoring the clovefish that lives off the west coast of the United States, the researchers found that it had a mean muscle temperature “about five degrees above the surrounding water, when swimming about 300 feet below the surface,” he explained. the study.
Most fish are cold-blooded, so finding a fish that can heat your body in the same way as mammals and birds was a surprise to scientists.
“But how it can warm up your body, it turns out to be a very active predator that chases its prey swiftly and can migrate for long distances,” continued the researchers.
Clove fish live on the bottom of the ocean, where predators tend to ambush their prey instead of pursuing them. Some other fish, such as tuna and some sharks, may warm up certain parts of their bodies and muscles to boost performance by swimming in the cold depths, but their internal organs quickly become cold, forcing them to rise to shallow waters, To warm up.
With red fins that are constantly beating, the clovefish stays warm even when the water gets colder, speeding up your metabolism and maintaining a quick reflex.
In addition to the network of heating blood vessels, clove fish have fatty tissue around the gills, heart and muscle, to isolate themselves and stay warm.
“It’s the first time we see this in the gills of a fish,” Wegner said. “This is an interesting innovation that gives these animals a competitive advantage. Nature has a way of surprising us with clever strategies when we least expect them. It’s hard to get hot when we’re surrounded by cold water, but the clove fish can do it. “