Seafood Could Soon be Fatal as Global Warming Persists – Study

Seafood Could Soon be Fatal as Global Warming Persists – Study Shellfish (Alexander Baxevanis/FLICKR) with CC BY 2.0

Global warming could not only increase oceanic temperature but also threaten the world’s food supply. Experts believe that the phenomenon would make some seafood toxic.

In a report from Eureka Alert, a study found positive relationship between the toxicity of shellfish and warm water. The researchers published their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rising Temperature and Oceanic Toxicity

The researchers noted that the observation is impacted by two phenomena—El Niño and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. They specially found that samples of shellfish taken from the Pacific Northwest showed high levels of domoic acid.

In order to come up with the findings, the researchers analyzed two decades worth of data from the oceans in the Pacific. It uses time-series data obtained from various studies and analyses over the past decades.

But the study did not only establish the relationship between rising oceanic temperature and domoic acidity in shellfish. It also provided a model to predict with high precision the timing of domoic acidity in this part of the Pacific.

Global Warming and Food Security

Oregon State University professor Angelicque Whitex said that connecting the two occurrences in its natural environment was difficult. Whitex led the team of researchers from various universities and various agencies, including NOAA.

“To do so, long observational time-series are crucial. With NOAA’s commitment to sponsored coastal ocean research and monitoring, along with state support for monitoring shellfish toxins, we’ve finally been able to tease out short term variability from natural climate forcing,” Whitex was quoted as saying by Eureka Alert.

According to the Marine Mammal Center, domoic acid is produced by algae and accumulates in various types of marine organisms. This is commonly found in shellfish, sardines, and anchovies, among others.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife noted that ingesting sea animals with high levels of domoic acid can be harmful, even fatal. It is a type of a neurotoxin that attacks the central nervous system. It was first detected in 1991, and the first case of a marine mammal diagnosed with the condition was recorded in 1998.

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