Nov 15, 2009

The structure and function of fish gills

A fish continuously pumps water through its mouth and over gill arches, using coordinated movements of the jaws and operculum (gill cover) for this ventilation. (A swimming fish can simply open its mouth and let water flow past its gills.) Each gill arch has two rows of gill filaments, composed of flattened plates called lamellae. Blood flowing through capillaries within the lamellae picks up oxygen from the water. Notice that the countercurrent flow of water and blood maintains a concentration gradient down which O2 diffuses from the water into the blood over the entire length of a capillary.