Effects of Ocean Acidification on Salmon Olfactory Function and Magnetoreception

Examining whether ocean acidification impairs salmons’ ability to smell.

Principal Investigator

Evan Gallagher, University of Washington, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences

Co-Principal Investigators

Andrew Dittman, NOAA NWFSC

Chase Williams, University of Washington


Evidence of ocean acidification on shellfish and other marine organisms native to the Pacific Northwest is well documented, but the effects on local fishes have largely gone unstudied. This research addresses a current gap in knowledge about possible harmful effects of increased CO2 fish populations. In an ongoing study that focuses on Pacific salmon and sablefish, WSG researchers are finding that ocean acidification can diminish salmons’ ability to smell nearby predators. This investigation will probe the mechanisms that underlie loss of smell, and will expand the line of research to investigate the effects of increased waterborne CO2 on navigational function, a function which allows salmon to find their way back to their home streams to spawn.