Antidepressants make shrimps see the light

Science Daily –

Rising levels of antidepressants in coastal waters could change sea-life behaviour and potentially damage the food-chain, according to a new study.

Research into the behaviour of shrimps exposed to the antidepressant fluoxetine, showed that their behaviour is dramatically affected. The shrimps are five times more likely to swim toward the light instead of away from it — making them more likely to be eaten by fish or birds, which could have devastating effects on the shrimp population.

“Crustaceans are crucial to the food chain and if shrimps’ natural behaviour is being changed because of antidepressant levels in the sea this could seriously upset the natural balance of the ecosystem,” said Dr Alex Ford from the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Marine Sciences.

“Much of what humans consume you can detect in the water in some concentration. We’re a nation of coffee drinkers and there is a huge amount of caffeine found in waste water, for example. It’s no surprise that what we get from the pharmacy will also be contaminating the country’s waterways.”

The research is published in the journal Aquatic Toxicology. The study found that the shrimps’ behaviour changes when they are exposed to the same levels of fluoxetine found in the waste water that flows to rivers and estuaries as a result of the drugs humans excrete in sewage.

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