Issue Date: June 1, 2009
Antifouling Agent Linked To Endangered Fish Deformities
Abnormalities in the endangered Chinese sturgeon have been tied to triphenyltin, a pesticide and antifouling compound used on ship hulls and fishing nets (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0809434106). A team led by Jianying Hu of China's Peking University surveyed recently hatched Chinese sturgeon living in the Yangtze River and found that 7.5% suffered from serious deformities. Severe skeletal malformations were observed in 6.3% of the larvae, and 1.2% were born missing at least one eye. In confirmation of their suspicion that triphenyltin was to blame, Hu's group identified high levels of the compound in the livers and eggs of the fish. The researchers then were able to reproduce similar deformities at similar levels by injecting sturgeon eggs with triphenyltin at concentrations found in wild fish eggs. "Until now, there has been no direct evidence that exposure to synthetic compounds was related to adverse effects on the Chinese sturgeon population," the researchers note. "Thus, it has been difficult to make appropriate management policies for the protection of Chinese sturgeon."
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