August 02, 2012
Scientists Find First Wild Fish With Skin Cancer in Australia's Great Barrier Reef
By Chad Love
Worldwide skin cancer rates are skyrocketing, so it is a very, very good idea to start covering up and using sunscreen, lots of sunscreen, when you're out fishing. Just how bad is it? It's so bad even the damn fish are getting skin cancer. No, really...
From this story in the LA Times:
If you're still skeptical that a tan can be dangerous, consider this: Scientists have found that wild fish are getting skin cancer from ultraviolet radiation. Approximately 15% of coral trout in Australia's Great Barrier Reef had cancerous lesions on their scales. In that regard, they resemble Australians who live on land — 2 in 3 people who live down under will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, the highest rate in the world. It's probably no coincidence that Australia is under the Earth's biggest hole in the ozone layer.
According to the story, researchers accidentally made the discovery while conducting a survey of shark prey. They found lesions on a number of the trout taken during the survey, tested them, and were surprised to find that it wasn't an infection, as first assumed, but skin cancer. It's the first published account of skin cancer in wild fish.
How many of you still spend hours on the water with no sunscreen and no covering? How many of you dive into the vat of SPF 600 and then swaddle up like a mummy? I used to be among the former, but now count myself among the latter. Skin cancer 'aint fun, it's getting worse, and apparently now even the fish have to start covering up. Welcome to the new normal.