Sunday, November 15, 2009

On the Feminization of the Species

From the U.S. Geological Survey (one of my favorite late night reads) it appears that researchers are pondering the strange increase in numbers of intersex fish in our rivers and lakes. Yes, male black bass are shedding their stereotypical behavior and adopting roles that were traditionally considered feminine. Okay, it does not just affect males,
"This condition is primarily revealed in male fish that have immature female egg cells in their testes, but occasionally female fish will have male characteristics as well."

It sounds like something is hacking into Big Mouth Billy Bass' genes.

Where is this being found?
"Although intersex occurrence differed among species and basin, it was more prevalent in large mouth bass in southeastern U.S., where it occurred at all sites in the Apalachicola, Savannah, and Pee Dee river basins, said Jo Ellen Hinck, the lead author of the paper and a biologist at the USGS Columbia Environmental Research Center. The researchers also documented intersex in channel catfish for the first time."

No, not the catfish too!

So what is causing this change? It can't be a simple choice of lifestyle? There must be an external force at work. The researchers can't say yet, but they are not talking about genetic mutations, although they might want to think about the new science of epigenetics.
“We know that endocrine-active compounds have been associated with intersex in fish, but we lack information on which fish species are most sensitive to such compounds, the way that these compounds interact to cause intersex, and the importance of environmental factors,” Hinck said. “Proper diagnosis of this condition in wild fish is essential because if the primary causes are compounds that disrupt the endocrine system, then the widespread occurrence of intersex in fish would be a critical environmental concern.

You know what? We drink that very same water...hmmm...

This might explain a lot.

I remember my Dad saying, "You are what you eat, so gobble up!" as he carved the Thanksgiving turkey.

So, the next time you put ice in your drink, or water in your glass, think...

"Why am I drinking this sissy stuff when I could have had a shot of Scotch?"

Uh, on second thought, maybe they should test the fish in Josie's Well before you drink that scotch.


  1. My question is, what's the USGS doing surveying transgendered fish? Shouldn't they leave that to Fish & Wildlife and work on warning us of the next Mt. St. Helens?


  2. Anonymous11:07 PM

    The could study the feminization of Sewanee