JAN 24, 2017 09:16 AM PST

Link Found Between Warming Oceans and Shellfish Neurotoxins

While there are many signs that climate change is bad for the planet, yet another reason might have just recently been dug up by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists.

According to the team involved with the study, warming ocean waters that are a direct result of climate change might be creating more preferable conditions for harmful (or even deadly) neurotoxins to accumulate inside of shellfish and other fish.

While shellfish seafood is enjoyed by many, dangerous neurotoxins they can carry are reportedly fueled by warming ocean waters.

Image Credit: Pexels/Pixabay

This neurotoxin, known as domoic acid, isn’t produced by shellfish, rather it’s produced by certain kinds of oceanic algae. Shellfish, like crabs and muscles, just happen to scoop it up as they go about their ocean lifestyles. When too much of it accumulates inside of them, they become too dangerous for humans to eat.

It’s not exactly great news for seafood lovers, but because it serves as such a threat to human life, seafood connoisseurs and dealers need to take care, paying attention to national advisories for their own safety.

While this toxin is a natural part of life and typically exists in shellfish no matter what, experts are always carefully monitoring the levels of this toxin to ensure that they’re within the safe ranges for human consumption. Whenever the dangerous range is detected, experts issue warnings to fisheries so that toxic fish aren’t caught and fed to human consumers.

On the other hand, being able to predict spikes of the toxin has been a pretty difficult task, but now experts say that warming waters can help increase the levels of this toxin in shellfish, providing a possible model for flagging dangerous levels that could help save many human lives.

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), lead author of the study Morgaine McKibben from Oregon State University explains, "We describe a completely new method to understanding and predicting toxic outbreaks on a large scale, linking domoic acid concentrations in shellfish to ocean conditions caused by warm water phases of natural climate event cycles like Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and El Nino."

Current detection methods have kept human cases down to a bare minimum, but improving our predictions of when the toxins are likely to be at their worst can continue to save lives and prevent people from getting sick.

Source: NOAA via Science Daily, Popular Science

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 03, 2018
Technology
NOV 03, 2018
Tiny Light Detectors Inspired by Directional Hearing in Geckos
Many animals, like geckos, have difficulty triangulating the location of noises due to the small size of their heads.           &n...
NOV 13, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 13, 2018
Conservation Efforts Are Helping Amazon Turtle Populations Bounce Back
It’s not too often that conservationists get the chance to share a successful conservation story, but as it would seem, nearly 40 years’ worth...
DEC 17, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 17, 2018
New Aquatic Salamander Species Described in New Study
A new aquatic salamander species has been discovered, and researchers are almost entirely sure it matches the description of a previously-unknown animal th...
DEC 29, 2018
Earth & The Environment
DEC 29, 2018
Fish ear bones track coal ash contamination
Coal ash contamination is a public health threat across the United States. Coal ash refers to the toxic remains of coal burning in power plants. The chemic...
JAN 06, 2019
Earth & The Environment
JAN 06, 2019
What the government shutdown has meant for national parks
National parks are suffering greatly due to the recent government shutdown, which began on December 22 as a result of disagreement between President Trump ...
JAN 14, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 14, 2019
Groundwater Salamanders From Central Texas Allegedly 'At Risk of Extinction,' Researchers Say
The discovery of a new animal species is typically followed by excitement and praise, but after a team of researchers from The University of Texas at Austi...
Loading Comments...