Post by occam
There is an interesting science story on the BBC News page.
"Fish sauced? Goldfish turn to alcohol to survive icy winters"
"Some goldfish were found to have levels well above legal drink-driving
limits in many countries."
I was under the impression that drink-driving limits were set according
to the mg of alcohol/ 100mililiters of blood in the human body. I was
not aware that this measure also applied to cold-blooded animals. If
they are cold-blooded i.e. cannot regulate their body temperature via
blood circulation, how can alcohol help?
The article explains. It is nothing go do with the body temperature. The
lakes in whci the goldfish are living are ice-covered. That prevents
oxygen getting into the water.
While humans and most vertebrates die in a few minutes without
oxygen, these fish are able to survive for months in icy conditions
in ponds and lakes in northern Europe.
In most animals there is a single set of proteins that channel
carbohydrates towards the mitochondria, which are the power packs of
In the absence of oxygen, the consumption of carbohydrates generates
lactic acid, which the goldfish can't get rid of and which kills
them in minutes.
Luckily, these fish have evolved a second set of proteins that take
over in the absence of oxygen and convert the lactic acid to
alcohol, which can then be dispersed through the gills.
"The second pathway is only activated through lack of oxygen,"
author Dr Michael Berenbrink from the University of Liverpool, UK,
told BBC News.
"The ice cover closes them off from the air, so when the pond is
ice-covered the fish consumes all the oxygen and then it switches
over to the alcohol." 
The longer they are in freezing, airless conditions the higher the
alcohol levels in the fish become.
Despite the fact that the fish are literally filled to the gills
with alcohol, it's not the drink that kills them. If the winter
lasts too long, they run out of fuel that's stored in their livers
 I think that is misleading. The fish doesn't uses alcohol as an
alternative to oxygen. The alcohol is a waste product of a process that
takes place in the absence of oxygen.
Post by occam
Next time I travel, I'll be looking out for that exclusive bottle of
Duty Free brewed from lactic acid, just the way fish like it.
Peter Duncanson, UK