The Last Stop: When There’s Nowhere Colder to Go

How Climate Change Is Affecting Polar Fish at the Tip of a Warming World

Two seals in Antarctica
Two seals swim beneath ice in Antarctica, where UC Davis researchers are studying how polar fish are coping with warming temperatures and environmental change. (Rob Robbins, US Antarctic Program)

Fish have been migrating to cooler water over the last several decades as the ocean warms. But in Antarctica, the coldest place on the planet, polar species have nowhere to go.

See a longer version of this story, with additional photos and video, on the UC Davis Science & Climate website.

Marine life in Antarctica is especially vulnerable to climate change, which is warming oceans throughout the world. Anne Todgham, an animal scientist at the University of California, Davis, is studying how — and whether — polar fish will adapt to the changing conditions.

Preliminary results indicate that the polar fish have been able to acclimate to warm water or to higher levels of carbon dioxide, but not both together.

“They have evolved to live in very cold, stable conditions and they already live in the coldest, most stable ecosystem on Earth,” said Todgham, an associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Animal Science who specializes in how aquatic life copes with changing environments.

The research sheds light on the possible fate of many sea creatures, including ones we depend on for food.

Continue the story.

Media Resources

Diane Nelson, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, 530-752-1969,

Kat Kerlin, UC Davis News and Media Relations, 530-750-9195,

Anne Todgham, UC Davis Animal Science, 530-752-1897,

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