LONDON, July 5 — A British toxicologist has found that chemicals seeping into the water supply is feminising the fish population.
A number of male river fish in the UK have reportedly turned intersex or transgender, and are now displaying both male and female characteristics, according to a University of Exeter study.
The mutations are caused by chemicals from contraceptive pills, cleaning products, plastics, and cosmetics that make it to the water systems after being flushed down.
Twenty per cent of male fish tested in 50 sites displayed less competitive mating behaviour and reduced sperm quality, with some even producing eggs.
Offspring of these transgender fish may also be more sensitive to the effects of the chemicals in subsequent exposures.
The research by professor Charles Tyler was entitled “The Feminisation of Nature — an Unnatural History” and served as the opening lecture at the 50th Anniversary Symposium of the Fisheries Society in the British Isles.
Fish biologists around the world are gathering at the symposium to talk about other threats to the fish population, and how to address them. — Reuters