Can maritime animals, such as these turtle and fish, drown?(Image credit: Luiz Felipe Puntel/EyeEm via Getty Images)
About 236,000 people drown every year, follow to the civilization Health Organization. Humans aren"t the only animals that drown, of course; dogs, snakes, birds and more can drown once they"re recorded in water with no method to escape. However what around fish and also other maritime animals? Can pets that live in the water additionally suffocate in it?

"Marine animals likewise need oxygen come live," said Frances Withrow, a maritime scientist at Oceana, an eco-friendly protection and also conservation organization. "It"s just that they live turn off of liquified oxygen, when we acquire oxygen from the air."

Most fish breathe once water moves throughout their gills. Yet if the gills room damaged or water can not move across them, the fish deserve to suffocate. Lock don"t technically drown, because they don"t breathe the water, however they carry out die native a lack of oxygen.

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Fishing equipment, such as some species of hooks, can damage the gills. Disease can additionally be the cause. Pathogens, greatly bacteria, may attach to the gills, prevent them for this reason they can"t filter oxygen indigenous the water or degrading them come the suggest where lock no longer work. "It"s similar to if we had actually a really bad respiratory disease," Withrow said. "It provides it work-related harder come breathe."

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Although some fish can pump water throughout their gills while in ~ rest, many fish have to swim constantly so the water flows previous them. If they get trapped, such together in a fishing net, castle may get stuck and also suffocate, Withrow told Live Science.

Sharks require their fins to swim. Some fishers capture sharks and remove their fins for foodstuffs such together shark fin soup and then toss the shark back into the water because the rest of the animal may no be valuable on the market. "This is often an illegal activity because it"s unsustainable," Withrow said. "Not only is it not good for the general populations the sharks, but it"s pretty cruel." The shark can"t swim when it"s tossed earlier in, for this reason it will be eaten by predators, die of scarcity or suffocate.

Other marine animals, such together turtles and dolphins, acquire air the way we do — they breath it native the air. Yet they deserve to only carry out it once they surface. Fishing equipment can catch them underwater, avoiding them indigenous doing so.

Drift gill nets, or gigantic nets the float in the water and also are not designed come target a particular species of fish, are a major culprit. "Depending top top the dimension of the net, that will catch anything that swims by," Withrow said. This contains fish, sea turtles and marine mammals that the fishers don"t intended to sell. Other types of fishing equipment have ropes that can entangle animals, like whales, and prevent them from surfacing.

It"s complicated to know how countless marine animals suffocate, Withrow said, however entanglement death 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises every year, the global Whaling board of directors estimates.

—Must sharks keep swimming to continue to be alive?

—Why don"t fish have necks?

—Can saltwater fish live in new water?

Sometimes, areas of the ocean might not have enough dissolved oxygen to assistance the fish the live there. One method this can happen is if plenty of plankton bloom simultaneously after sufficient nutrients end up being available. The plankton use up every the oxygen in a short period, causing fish in the area to suffocate. "The ocean is always mixing, but in strange ways," Withrow said. "So the water isn"t always able to replenish that oxygen an extremely quickly."

Moreover, warm water doesn"t host as much liquified oxygen as cold water does, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. As ocean temperatures increase due to climate change, "dead zones" with reduced oxygen levels space emerging, Live Science previously reported.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Tara Santora is a contributing editor in ~ Fatherly and a freelance science journalist that covers every little thing related come science, health and the environment, particularly in relationship to marginalized communities. They have written for well-known Science, scientific American, business Insider and also more. Born and also raised in the Philadelphia suburbs, Tara graduated from Oberlin College through a bachelor"s degree in biologic and brand-new York University v a master"s in science journalism.