Why do some fish have colourless blood?

What they lack in colour, they make up for with a big heart…

16th October 2017
Why do some fish have colourless blood?

Asked by: Lorely Maskell, Buckinghamshire

Antarctic icefish have colourless blood with no red blood cells and no haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying pigment. This probably comes down to a genetic mutation, and means their blood carries 90 per cent less oxygen than red blood. They survive partly because frigid Antarctic waters are oxygen-rich. Icefish also have enormous hearts that pump huge volumes of blood around their bodies, making sure they get enough oxygen. Antifreeze in their blood stops them from freezing (the salty Southern Ocean gets down to -2°C) but as they are so well-adapted to the cold, their future in a warming world remains uncertain. HS

Read more:

 


SFQASubscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.