Charlotte Austin, a researcher at University of Canterbury tested how the emerald rock fish, which are Antarctic fish, started adapting themselves to warmer waters after being devoid of the -1.9 degrees Celsius habitat below the Antarctic ice.
Austin said that the Antarctic fish are able to recover completely from short exposures to temperatures up to 4 degrees centigrade, but longer exposures to temperatures at 4 degrees centigrade were deadly.
She also said that if the increase in temperature was gradual, all the Antarctic fish that were tested survived 56 days of the experiment at 3 degrees centigrade and were successfully able to digest food which is a vital process for survival.
The results hence depict some good news for the survival of this species if the ocean temperature in the Antarctic is not more than 2 degrees centigrade in the next 100 years.
Antarctic cod dominated the southern ocean and were important to the ecosystem and food web due to an extensive range of predators which include whales, orca, seals, penguins and other fish, Austin said.
Many species have also been under the target for commercial fisheries and the sustainability of the largest cod species, which is the Antarctic tooth fish, is a subject of contention. An adult emerald rock cod measures 170 mm in length, while the Antarctic tooth fish can exceed 2 meters when grown fully.