Environment

Pollution Believed to Be Sickening Fish of the Deep

A groundbreaking study of the health of fish living in the depths of the continental slopes suggests that some species may have developed liver diseases, tumours and other health problems that could be linked to manmade pollution.

The research took place at depths between 2,000 feet and 1 mile in the Bay of Biscay, off the western coast of France, and revealed the first case of a deep-water intersex fish species.

Such conditions, in which the fish displays a blend of male and female reproductive organs, have also been found among fish in far more shallow and polluted waters from Europe to North America.

“In areas ranging from pristine, high mountain lakes of the United States to ocean waters off the coasts of France and Spain, we’ve now found evidence of possible human-caused pollution that’s bad enough to have pathological impacts on fish,” said fish disease expert and report co-author Michael Kent of Oregon State University.

While no clear evidence of a major pollution source was found near the deep-water diseased fish, the species there mature at a relatively old age.

Researchers believe they could have accumulated dangerous amounts of pollution during their lifetimes.

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