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Activity 1: The Effect of Cold on Characteristics Important to Fishes

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It is always fascinating to learn how organisms are adapted to live in the ultimate of extreme environments, enabling them to live on the edge of the conditions that life can tolerate, and to discuss reasons for the similarities and differences between them, ourselves, and the more familiar organisms around us. Antarctic fishes are perfect examples of this extreme specialization. The water in which they live is -2 C, cold enough to kill a human in just a few minutes, but just the right temperature for them. These fishes live in a very stable environment where the temperature fluctuates by less than 1 C. As a result, though these fishes are wonderfully adapted for this extreme environment, they cannot tolerate any change. In fact, if their temperature is raised just a few degrees, these fishes will die.

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