Fish developing skin cancer in Australia
Two in three people in Australia will be stricken with skin cancer before they're 70 years old
The sun's life-giving rays can be very deadly, for both man - and fish.
Wild fish along Australia's Great Barrier Reef are now reported to be
developing skin cancer. The news is particularly alarming for
Australians, who live under the largest hole in the Earth's ozone layer.
Scientists say that approximately 15 percent of coral trout in Australia's Great Barrier Reef have cancerous lesions on their scales.
The cancerous fish has come as a most unwelcome surprise for all concerned. Scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science were near the Great Barrier Reef conducting a survey of shark prey when they kept seeing strange dark patches on the normally bright orange fish. Another research team from the University of Newcastle in England was also studying coral disease in the area.
Michael Sweet, a coral disease expert said that "We can check for microbial pathogens quite easily. So we designed an experiment, screened for them, and couldn't find anything. So we had to look deeper."
The research team's first guess was that the patches were caused by an infection. Sweet and his colleagues cut the fish tissue into slices and put them under a microscope. "We basically stumbled onto these tumor formations," he said.
The team then compared them with samples from fish that had been given melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer - as part of a laboratory experiment. They looked nearly identical.
It is unlikely the phenomenon is new, Michelle Heupel, a researcher at the Australian Institute of Marine Science who wrote the study with Sweet and others.
"When I talk to people who have been fishing for a long time, they tell me they've seen this since back in the 1980s," she said.
It's not yet known why the incidence of melanoma was so high in these fish. Sweet points out that the reef sits under the outer reaches of the ozone hole centered over Antarctica. That greatly increases the area's exposure to harmful ultraviolet radiation, which can lead to cancer-causing mutations in DNA.
The Great Barrier Reef's location at the edge of the coral trout's range also increases its vulnerability to cancer.
"They are at the extreme of their habitat," Sweet said. "They are struggling to cope, which means they will be more susceptible to more diseases."
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Australia, fish, skin cancer, Great Barrier Reef
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Green News
- Lovely but deadly - beautiful bubbles in Canadian lake are flammable methane gas
- Oldest water in the world discovered beneath the earth's surface
- There's the problem! Americans are out of touch with scientific consensus on climate change
- Rare event, two Alaskan volcanoes simultaneously erupt
- Why are scientists in Cancun worried about melting snow on Mt. Everest?
- Atmospheric carbon dioxide hits 400 ppm, so why should we care?
- Sea level rise already forcing changes in Caribbean, other island nations
- Giant African snails invade Houston suburb, public warned
- First law of the black widow kingdom - Don't get old
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?