Scientists have found an alarming accumulation of certain persistent organic pollutants in an environment previously thought pristine and untouched by humans: the deep sea.
The accumulation of toxic methylmercury is a serious threat to wildlife all over the world – especially top predators in polar regions, like polar bears. Young polar bears are often the most vulnerable to detrimental effects of pollutants. To learn more about levels of mercury in polar bear cubs and their mothers, scientists measured total mercury content in samples of hair from bears in Western Hudson Bay.
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You may think you’re familiar with the side effects of most common medications, but there are other, hidden side effects occurring beneath the surfaces of our oceans, lakes, and rivers. In this study, researchers brought these side effects to light by measuring a wide range of pharmaceuticals, drugs, and other manmade chemicals, in fish from Puget Sound.
Dolphins and humans are continuously exposed to low levels of various halogenated, persistent manmade pollutants through their diets. In this study, blubber samples from 8 dolphins were analyzed by cutting-edge techniques to find out what’s accumulating in these marine predators. Findings suggest many routine monitoring programs underestimate the exposure of marine mammals to toxins.
While smooth dogfish may not be on your list of favorite seafood, cartilaginous fish (mainly sharks and skates) may increasingly find their way onto your dinner plate due to the decline of more traditional fisheries. While increased demand for these species as a food item could help struggling seafood industries, recent proposals to use dogfish in federal food programs beg the question: Is it safe to eat shark?
Seafood mislabeling is a big problem for both consumers and fisheries management. Using genetic data and mercury concentrations, scientists figured out how frequently store-bought Chilean sea bass was swapped. Results indicate seafood substitutions can mean very different concentrations of mercury in your meal.
A large portion of the North American Grizzly Bear population call Western Canada home. The diet of these bears ranges from berries to mammals, and every year in the fall, coastal bears consume copious amount of Pacific salmon. This study investigates hair samples from Grizzly Bears and how they can be used to reflect dietary changes in mercury consumption.
Large numbers of green sea turtles are growing tumors that impede their swimming, block their sight, and prevent them from feeding. Researchers know that the tumor-causing disease, fibropapillomatosis, is more prevalent in some areas than others, but no one knows why. In this study, scientists set out to determine whether exposure to chemical pollutants may make sea turtles more susceptible to fibropapillomatosis.
Analyzing changes in gene transcription is a way to detect adverse effects in organisms before they are observable on the whole organism level. Here, a Canadian research group set out to determine whether beluga whales in the relatively pristine Beaufort Sea are accumulating toxic pollutants at levels that could affect the future health of the beluga population.
Animals in early stages of development are particularly susceptible to harmful effects of toxic pollutants. For this reason, the transfer of toxic pollutants from mothers to their young has been the subject of intense research. In this study, researchers from California State investigated how non-mammalian species like sharks, skates, and rays pass toxic pollutants on to their young.
The oil or “tar” sands in Alberta, Canada are the third largest known reserves of accessible oil in the world. They are located around 200 km upstream of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, which is considered a wetland of international significance. This Delta is an ecologically sensitive habitat that provides services for millions of birds, which led a group of scientists in Canada to study mercury levels in bird eggs and investigate sources of mercury to the area.
Common loons, walleye, northern pike, and yellow perch play integral roles in ecosystem dynamics and environmental policy decisions. In this research project, they act as useful indicators to determine dangerously toxic levels of methylmercury in Canada.
Fluorinated compounds are an emerging class of persistent pollutants that have a global presence in the environment, biota, and humans, but are only now beginning to be regulated. A group of researchers from Scandinavia looked at liver samples taken from otters in Sweden and Norway from 1972-2011 and found that concentrations of many of these compounds have increased at disquieting rates, particularly within the last decade.
Australian and Norwegian researchers measured levels of pesticides and PCBs in southern hemisphere humpback whales to find out whether extreme weight loss during migration could have unforeseen consequences for the species.