Shrimp Go Into the Light

A recent study in aquatic toxicology studied the effects of several well prescribed anti-depressants on the behavior of shrimp. One in particular, fluoxetine, better known as Prozac significantly altered the shrimp’s behavior, causing them to move towards rather than away from light right into the awaiting maws of predatory shrimp-eaters. In scientist speak, this movement towards or away from light stimulus is called “phototaxis” (on a complete aside, another more bizarre photo-response is the photic sneeze effect where bright light causes someone to automatically sneeze. I like the mental picture of a mass of little sneezing shrimp…).

These kinds of studies are gaining more import because of the types of chemicals ending up in aquatic systems. Much of what we put into our bodies is never completely absorbed and ends up in the sewer system which consequently often ends up in other water-based ecological systems (sewage is treated for things like excess nutrients but we couldn’t possibly screen for all the possible chemicals sewage may contain). So materials like caffeine, medications we take, etc. are now outside of our superficial human realm and in the larger natural environment, with detrimental if not even bizarre effects on wildlife including sex changes in fish.

To find out more, read the sciencedaily feature here.


One thought on “Shrimp Go Into the Light

  1. Chuck D says:

    While I share your concern for the disposal of our over-medicated urine and feces, I would point out that nature is filled with nasties (caffeine is one of the more benign natural toxins) with many ill effects. I would estimate that about 99% of all “toxins” in the biosphere are natural. Thank heavens that bacteria are apparently the favorite thing of the creator as there are so many of them and practically everywhere. Those little critters are marvously wonderful at gobbling up various toxins, natural and otherwise.

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