The organisms living in water need oxygen for cellular processes. Aquatic organisms breathe in oxygen, exactly like mammals, and breathe out carbon dioxide. The only difference in respiration is that aquatic organisms receive this oxygen from water, and mammals receive the oxygen from the air. Gas exchange in aquatic animals takes place through a specialized organ called gills by which they extract oxygen or breathe air that is dissolved in water, or they may extract oxygen directly through the skin. In the next section, we will be discussing the respiratory systems of certain aquatic organisms.
Respiratory system in Fish
The gas exchange in most fishes takes place through gills, tissues that are present on either side of the pharynx. The form the splanchnocranium, which is the part of the skeleton where the convergence of cartilage of cranium into the cartilage of the pharynx and its linked parts takes place. Filaments that are thread-like structures are contained in gills. These filaments perform several functions like they are involved in carbon dioxide, oxygen, acid, and ammonia exchange and are also involved in iron and water transfer. The exchange of gases in fish takes place by drawing in oxygen-rich water via their mouth and pumping it over the gills. In species like the spiny dogfish and other sharks, when the animal is not in motion, the water into the gills is pumped by the spiracle that exists near the top of the head. Capillary blood flows in the opposite direction to the water in some fishes that causes countercurrent exchange. The oxygen-deficient water is pushed out of the gill openings by the muscles present on the sides of the pharynx. The Bone called operculum found in Bony fish that surrounds the gills aids the pumping of oxygen-poor water in Bony fish.
Respiratory system in Mollusks
After Arthropoda, these are the second largest phylum of invertebrate animals. The exchange of oxygen from an environment into the circulatory system is allowed by the gills that are present in mollusks. A heart is also possessed by these animals that pump blood, which contains oxygen- capturing a molecule called hemocyaninine. This respiratory system is therefore similar to that of vertebrate fish.
Respiratory system in Arthropods
Gas exchange in aquatic arthropods takes place through some forms of Gills that are possessed by these arthropods by diffusion via the exoskeleton. Others, while remaining submerged, may inhale atmospheric air via trapped air bubbles or breathing tubes. Some aquatic insects may remain indefinitely submerged and respire through plastron. A very few Arachnids, including diving bell spiders, have adopted an aquatic lifestyle. Oxygen, in all cases, is delivered from the air that is locked in by hairs around the body of animals.
Respiratory system in Amphibians
In amphibians, the skin and lungs, both serve as the respiratory organs. They have moist and highly vascularized skin, and the moisture is retained via mucus secretion from specialized cells. When amphibians are submerged in oxygen-rich water, the rapid gas exchange in them is aided by the skin, although lungs are of the primary function of breathing control.
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