Earlier this week, The New York Times had a story about fish and depression. Apparently, it’s a thing because… Science!
“The neurochemistry is so similar that it’s scary,” said Julian Pittman, a professor at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Troy University in Alabama, where he is working to develop new medications to treat depression, with the help of tiny zebrafish. We tend to think of them as simple organisms, “but there is a lot we don’t give fish credit for.”
Well there’s good news, apparently thanks to the depression treatments of higher animals, including homo sapiens and their pets, the ocean is being flooded with Prozac. Oh, wait, that’s bad for crabs according to Portand State University:
Prozac in ocean water a possible threat to sea life, PSU study finds
(Portland, Ore.) October 17, 2017 – Oregon shore crabs exhibit risky behavior when they’re exposed to the antidepressant Prozac, making it easier for predators to catch them, according to a new study from Portland State University (PSU).
The study, published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, illustrates how concentrations of pharmaceuticals found in the environment could pose a risk to animal survival.
For years, tests of seawater near areas of human habitation have shown trace levels of everything from caffeine to prescription medicines. The chemicals are flushed from homes or medical facilities, go into the sewage system, and eventually make their way to the ocean.
In a laboratory, the PSU team exposed Oregon shore crabs to traces of fluoxetine, the active ingredient in Prozac. They found that the crabs increased their foraging behavior, showing less concern for predators than they normally would. They even did so during the day, when they would normally be in hiding.
They also fought more with members of their own species, often either killing their foe or getting killed in the process.
“The changes we observed in their behaviors may mean that crabs living in harbors and estuaries contaminated with fluoxetine are at greater risk of predation and mortality,” said researcher Elise Granek, a professor in PSU’s department of Environmental Sciences and Management.
Ah well, due to all that Prozac at least the fish will be happier, and the crabs will remain…crabby.