Fish hooked on Valium? Yes, it's true
Study finds aquatic life in Florida affected by prescription drugs
(A native of England, Matthew Diebel is a veteran journalist who has worked at NBC News, Time, USA Today and News Corp., among other organizations. Having spent his childhood next to one of the world's fastest bodies of water, he is particularly interested in tidal energy.)
If you’re a regular reader of our CCI Insights section, you’ll know that we can’t resist seemingly wacky headlines. There was “Offshore wind farms could double as charging stations for electric ships” and then the classic “Beavers have been moving to the Arctic.”
Now add “Fish on Valium,” which is the first part of a long headline that goes on to tell how “A multitude of prescription drugs are contaminating Florida’s marine life.”
Like the other stories, of course, there is a serious underpinning to the Florida tale, which details how researchers in the Sunshine State have identified 58 different drugs in aquatic critters from South Florida’s coastal waters, including 17 in a single fish.
The study has not yet been published, Dr. Jennifer Rehage, lead researcher for the study and associate professor at the Institute of Water and Environment at Florida International University in Miami, told Inside Climate News. But she said they decided to publicize the findings early in the hope that President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress in late 2021 would bring attention to possible investment, such as water treatment improvements and changing pharmaceutical contamination regulations.
“These findings are truly alarming,” Rehage said in an FIU press release. “Pharmaceuticals are an invisible threat, unlike algal blooms or turbid waters. Yet these results tell us that they are a formidable threat to our fisheries, and highlight the pressing need to address our longstanding wastewater infrastructure issues.”
The researchers say exposure to drugs can affect all aspects of fish behavior, including negative consequences for their reproduction, feeding, activity, sociability and migratory behavior.
Not mentioned was what happens to humans who bite into a plump filet of red snapper. Maybe that’s what makes Jimmy Buffett so mellow.