Study finds white sharks with high levels of mercury, arsenic and lead in their blood

phys.org | 3/19/2019 | Staff
reantes (Posted by) Level 3
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Inset: Dr. Pieter Koen from the State Veterinary Services in South Africa draws blood from a white shark in South Aftrica.Background: Great white shark, South Africa Credit: Inset: OCEARCHBackground: Neil Hammerschlag, Ph.D.

Researchers found high concentrations of mercury, arsenic, and lead, in blood samples obtained from Great white sharks in South Africa. The samples had levels that would be considered toxic to many animals. However, the study found no apparent negative consequences of these heavy metals on several health parameters measured in the sharks, including body condition, total leukocytes, and granulocyte to lymphocyte ratios, suggesting no adverse effects on their immune system.

Results - Sharks - Protective - Mechanism - Effects

"The results suggest that sharks may have an inherent physiological protective mechanism that mitigates the harmful effects of heavy metal exposure," said Liza Merly, study lead author and senior lecturer at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

"As top predators, sharks bio-accumulate toxins in their tissues via the food web from the prey they eat," said Neil Hammerschlag, study co-author and research associate professor at UM's Rosenstiel School and Abess Center for Ecosystem Science & Policy. "So by measuring concentrations of toxins, such as mercury and arsenic, in the blood of white sharks, they can act as 'ecosystem indicators' for the health of the ecosystem, with implications for humans," he said. "Basically, if the sharks have high levels of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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