Fish Otolith

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Overview:

Ornaments from fish otoliths have made a market debut, which are crafted by a group of enthusiastic fisherwomen in Vizhinjam, trained by scientists from Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).

About Fish Otolith

  • Otoliths are biomineralised ear stones that help fish hear and provide it a sense of balance
  • These are important in fish studies as they have species-specific shapes and grow throughout their life.
  • They are commonly known as "earstones," are hard, calcium carbonate structures located directly behind the brain of bony fishes. 
  • There are three types of otoliths, all of which aid fish in balance and hearing:
    • Sagitta: The largest of the 3 pairs of otoliths, sagitta is involved in the detection of sound and the process of hearing, or converting sound waves into electrical signals.
    • Asteriscus: This type of otolith is involved in the detection of sound and the process of hearing.
    • Lapillus: This type of otolith is involved in the detection of gravitational force and sound.
  • Different species have otoliths of different shapes and sizes; and cartilaginous fishes, such as sharks, skates, and rays, have none. 

Significance

  • These otoliths can be used to identify the species, size, age, growth rate, and season of death of an individual fish.
  • Analysis of the oxygen isotope values of fish otoliths can provide information on the temperature of the water in which the fish lived.

Q1: What is Biomineralization?

It is the process by which living organism manufactures minerals for different functional purposes, such as mechanical stiffening of tissue, magnetic or gravitational sensing, and element storage.

Source: Fish otolith ornaments make market debut