Male Bass Across Region Found to Be Bearing Eggs

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Mecha

Guest
#1
[url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/05/AR2006090501384.html]Washington Post[/url] said:
Male Bass Across Region Found to Be Bearing Eggs
Pollution Concerns Arise In Drinking-Water Source

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 6, 2006; Page A01

Abnormally developed fish, possessing both male and female characteristics, have been discovered in the Potomac River in the District and in tributaries across the region, federal scientists say -- raising alarms that the river is tainted by pollution that drives hormone systems haywire.

The fish, smallmouth and largemouth bass, are naturally males but for some reason are developing immature eggs inside their sex organs. Their discovery at such widely spread sites, including one just upstream from the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, seems to show that the Potomac's problem with "intersex" fish extends far beyond the West Virginia stream where they were first found in 2003.

The cause of the abnormalities is unknown, but scientists suspect a class of waterborne contaminants that can confuse animals' growth and reproductive systems. These pollutants are poorly understood, however, leaving many observers with questions about what the problems in fish mean for the Potomac and the millions of people who take their tap water from it.

"I don't know, and I don't think anybody knows, the answer to that question right now: Is the effect in the fish transferable to humans?" said Thomas Jacobus, general manager of the Washington Aqueduct, which processes Potomac water to provide drinking water for residents of the District, Arlington County and Falls Church.

Jacobus, like others at area utilities, said there was no evidence that tap water taken from the Potomac was unsafe to drink. They said humans should be far less susceptible to the river's pollution than fish, because people are not exposed constantly to the water, our hormone systems work differently, and our larger bodies should require higher doses of any pollutant to cause problems. As research on the fish continues, other scientists across the region are trying to determine whether Potomac water or mud can affect human cells. This research, including tests at West Virginia University that examine whether cells react as if estrogen or estrogen mimics are present, has not reached any solid conclusions.

The first intersex fish in this area were found three years ago in the South Branch of the Potomac, a tributary more than 200 miles upstream from Washington. In 2004, more abnormal bass were discovered in a section of the upper Potomac near Sharpsburg, Md.

Following up, last fall federal and state researchers caught smallmouth bass in the Shenandoah River in Virginia and in the Monocacy River and Conococheague Creek in Maryland. All three tributaries eventually empty into the Potomac. At the site on the Potomac itself in the District, there are no smallmouth bass, so the researchers examined largemouth bass.

The results were striking, according to Vicki S. Blazer, a fish pathologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. More than 80 percent of all the male smallmouth bass they found were growing eggs, including all of the fish caught at four of the seven survey sites. The intersex condition doesn't change the fish's outward appearance but can be detected under a microscope.

At the site in Washington, seven of 13 male largemouth bass showed some kind of unusual feminine characteristic. Six of the seven fish tested positive for a protein used to produce eggs, and three of the seven contained eggs, Blazer said.

Taken together, Blazer said, the results on both bass species seemed to indicate that the Potomac watershed has a problem with "endocrine disruptors," contaminants that interfere with nature's chemical signaling. In this case, she said, the contaminants might have turned on bodily processes that normally are only active in female fish.

"What we're seeing now is that it's definitely not a problem just in the South Branch," she said. "There is this sort of widespread endocrine disruption in the Potomac, but we don't know still what are the causes."

Pollutants that mimic hormones have emerged as a worldwide concern in the past decade, blamed for problems in animals as diverse as alligators, minnows and polar bears. Although scientists say the research is in its infancy, they have identified a large array of pollutants that might affect animals, including human estrogen from processed sewage, animal estrogen from farm manure, some pesticides and additives to soap.

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I think more men would be more enviromentalist if they knew it made their penis smaller. Sad and funny.

~Mecha
 
A

Ant On A Log

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#2
That's probably an evolutionary adaptation in response to different stimuli. There are already fish that are both male and female at the same time, these are just catching on.
 
G

Gryf

Guest
#3
Well, it's arguable that our oversized frontal lobes are the result of a tragic mutation that never went away, and the same is arguable for many other things that we consider adaptations. Whether or not it is genetic, however, is still up for question.
 
#4
There are a lot of chemicals that masquerade as female hormones inside bodies. Most of them are fat-soluble and are persistent in the environment (don't break down easily). Males during gestation and youth are especially susceptible to these kinds of pollutants because their sex organs have not yet matured and can be damaged by excess estogen or estrogen-like chemicals. As an example, PCB's (polychlorinated biphenyls) have been implicated in the disappearance of polar bears. Most polar bears are radio-collared and a few years ago a survey of the females turned up the startling fact that about half of all the cubs were of indeterminate gender. This has been traced (provisionally) to PCB's which are very long-lived and, being fat-soluble, when they get into the ocean they are absorbed by fish as they filter the water through their gills (fish can bio-accumulate concentrations of toxins in their bodies 1,000,000 times higher than in the water around them). The fish are eaten by seals (high-fat fish consumed by high-fat seals) which bio-accumulate levels 10's to 100's of times the concentration in the fish. Polar bears who eat the seals bio-accumulate even higher concentrations which are passed on to the cubs through the mother's milk which is about 90% fat.

While male babies bear the brunt of this disaster, females do not excape unscathed. These chemicals behaving like estrogen cause precocious puberty (early on-set of sexual maturity) with girls as young as 5 beginning to develop breasts and starting to menstruate. I have read that the Phillipines have a real problem with this due to (they think) the pollution of the food supply. Hormones fed to beef cattle and dairy cows contribute to this problem as well.

Transsexuals have existed all down through history but the number appears to be increasing now. I think it would be very ironic if we were to discover that the increase in tranny numbers was caused by the pollutants we are dumping into the air, water, and soil, because while people like IntheNet are shouting "Immorality and degeneracy" at us, it would be them and the folly of this civilization that would actually be at fault.
 
M

Mecha

Guest
#5
That's probably an evolutionary adaptation in response to different stimuli. There are already fish that are both male and female at the same time, these are just catching on.
Well, it's arguable that our oversized frontal lobes are the result of a tragic mutation that never went away, and the same is arguable for many other things that we consider adaptations.
The difference between these two posts is that the first one poses a respectable intellectual response. The second one makes an absurd equation (of evolution and mutation) that is not academic or supported in any real way.

To Mr. Log: That would be true if it was not coincided by large numbers of other animal species having the same problem, unless you are saying there is a strong selection factor for hermaphroditism/feminized males.
(Similiar British study) The Potomac shouldn't be that different, except from man-made activity.

To Gryf: No, it is not. At all.

~Mecha
 
A

Ant On A Log

Guest
#6
Mecha said:
The difference between these two posts is that the first one poses a respectable intellectual response. The second one makes an absurd equation (of evolution and mutation) that is not academic or supported in any real way.

To Mr. Log: That would be true if it was not coincided by large numbers of other animal species having the same problem, unless you are saying there is a strong selection factor for hermaphroditism/feminized males.
(Similiar British study) The Potomac shouldn't be that different, except from man-made activity.

To Gryf: No, it is not. At all.

~Mecha
There are other species of animals besides fish showing these characteristics? That would be kind of odd, too, and definetly point to some sort of chemical biuldup which replicated female hormones in many types of animals, not just the bass fish spoken of in the article.
 
G

Gryf

Guest
#7
Mare, you just broke my irony meter. *taps it*

*SPROING!*

Hehehehe. I'll have it fixed in a jiff. Anyway, thank you, Mare. That's very interesting to know.



Mecha: I was joking, dear. For future reference, I have a bit of a running joke about our "overgrown frontal lobes" being "a nasty mutation that hopefully won't take long to disappear from the species, thus returning us to the important and vastly more pleasant business of eating and fucking." Please understand that I don't necessarily consider this a scientific point of view, though it does serve to illustrate the point that evolution is a consequence of observable and relatively mundane phenomena, not some unusual or spectacular occurance. This is important because there seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding among some people about the nature of the thing. Humor is a good teacher.

In fact, if you had been paying attention, you'd have noticed the gist of my post: if it is a mutation, there are equal chances of it becoming adaptation, whether it is caused by pollutant or by other influences or events. However, there is still question as to whether the fish have been changed genetically, and the occurance still might disappear if the cause of it were removed. Instead of paying attention, however, you jumped to a conclusion about my position on the subject and proceeded with haste to make me out as an imbecile.