Shark Brains Destroyed by Toxic Algal Blooms

On DiscoveryNews today, I found an interesting story regarding sharks.

Many have heard of “red tides” in the ocean- which is basicaly a population boom of algae in the ocean. Toxins released during certain red tide events can negatively effect a large majority of shark species.

In some algal blooms- brevetoxins are released- which are brain-changing compounds. This can affect free-swimming animals such as sharks and fish. This research in particular focuses on the effects of brevetoxins.

Brevetoxins released can be consumed by smaller organisms such as shellfish- which can get eatten by the sharks. The brevetoxins can easily cross the shark’s blood-brain barrier that essential protects the brain.

These toxins disrupt the flow of sodium released into the brain- which can cause nerve cells to over-fire leading to hyperexcitabilty and ultimately conclude in death.

Of course- we can point the finger at humans for at least a portion of the blame for the rise of algal blooms. Run-offs from agriculture contains lots of nutrients which cause widespread algal blooms all over the world.

Overall..this is not a good thing. 😦 More research still needs to be completed pertaining to other shark species and possibly other animals though.

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