Fleet fish out­strip hu­mans and land an­i­mals

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODPOSTER - DAR­RYL FEARS

DO YOU think Usain Bolt is fast? Try rac­ing a trout.

Hu­mans toss around sports ti­tles like they own them. “World’s Great­est Ath­lete.” “World Record Holder.” “Fastest Alive.”

Name any win­ner at any Olympics at any event in track and field and this much is al­most cer­tain, a new re­search pa­per ar­gues, a wide va­ri­ety of ath­letic fish would blow right by them.

Trout, salmon, tuna and other fleet fish are ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing far more oxy­gen in their bod­ies for mind-blow­ing per­for­mance.

“Fish are 50-times more ef­fec­tive in re­leas­ing oxy­gen to their tis­sues than that found in hu­mans,” said Jodie Rum­mer, a re­searcher at the Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence for Co­ral Reef Stud­ies at James Cook Univer­sity.

“This is be­cause their haemoglobin, the pro­tein in blood that trans­ports oxy­gen, is more sen­si­tive to changes in pH than ours and more than the haemoglobin in other an­i­mals,” she said.

That’s right, other an­i­mals. The hum­ble trout and salmon, not to men­tion pow­er­ful tuna, can also blow away some of the fastest mam­mals on land.

Fish have de­vel­oped this abil­ity for longer than hu­mans can imag­ine, given their stand­ing as some of the first or­gan­isms to form hun­dreds of mil­lions of years ago.

Hu­mans run marathons. Salmon swim en­tire coast­lines and tuna swim around the world.

When they’re chased by preda­tors they re­ally get on their horses, fly­ing un­der­wa­ter at incredible speeds.

Hu­mans catch them eas­ily, but ad­vance fish­ing tools and meth­ods cheat na­ture.

A quick get­away from preda­tors isn’t the only skill fish evolved to sur­vive.

In ar­eas of low oxy­gen in wa­ter, known as dead zones, that leave them suck­ing for air, they can dou­ble or triple oxy­gen de­liv­ery to their tis­sue.

Re­searchers stud­ied rain­bow trout to un­der­stand how fish de­liver oxy­gen for the past decade. First they tested the trout’s mus­cle oxy­gen lev­els. Then they com­pared the re­sults with med­i­cal stud­ies of hu­mans to show how much more pow­er­ful are fish such as trout and salmon.

“This in­for­ma­tion tells us how fish have adapted this very im­por­tant process of get­ting oxy­gen and de­liv­er­ing it to where it needs to be so that they can live in all kinds of con­di­tions, warm or cold wa­ter, and wa­ter with low oxy­gen lev­els,” Rum­mer said.

“Many elite run­ners have taken to wear­ing train­ing masks that re­duce their oxy­gen in­take, hop­ing to bet­ter their per­for­mance. Fish don’t need a mask. They’re born that way.

“For fish,” he said, “en­hanced oxy­gen de­liv­ery may be one of the most im­por­tant adap­ta­tions of their 400 mil­lion year evo­lu­tion­ary his­tory.” – Wash­ing­ton Post

SO SLOW: A woman swims with a school of fish in a cove off Portofino, Italy.

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