Monday, August 6, 2012


Hey, Fish: Wear Sunscreen

Yeah, we're all gonna die:

Scientists know how to give fish skin cancer in the lab...but researchers were unsure whether fish got the disease in the wild.

The first hint that they did came when a group of marine biologists at the Australian Institute of Marine Science in Townsville, who were studying sharks on the country's Great Barrier Reef, noticed that the coral, bar-cheeked, and blue spotted trout being eaten by the sharks had black patches on their skin. At first, the researchers thought the patches might be caused by a fungus. But when they sent tissue samples from the fish to colleagues at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, the U.K. scientists found no evidence of microbial infection. What's more, the Australian group found no pollutants in the highly protected Great Barrier Reef that would have caused such discoloration. That left one main suspect: skin cancer.

1. This is awful.
2. How often do you have to reapply when you live underwater?
3. No, wait, really?

18 Comments / Post A Comment


I accidentally got sunburned (burnt?) yesterday at the beach for the first time this summer and this is NOT what I need to see today!


@emilies Well, you get the bulk of your sun damage before you're 20, so basically when you stubbornly refuse to wear sunscreen as a kid, so you're boned anyway.


@Megano! ruh roh.


@Megano! OR if you're like me and they don't make sunblock strong enough for you as a kid.

I am so totally boned.


Wow... Damn... @n


This just puts so many questions into my head. Have fish ALWAYS gotten skin cancer, and we've only recently started to notice and/or care? Or is it a new development that then raises questions about the sun's rays and the atmosphere and are we SURE it's the sun and not what's in the water, and why now if not before?


What fresh hell is this


Meh, we're all going to die anyway. ::eats a double bacon cheeseburger, takes another hit off crack pipe::


Ugh my mom had to have a huge piece of cheek skin removed under her eye from sarcoma three years ago. It's scary as heck.
A close up photo of mangled face skin is a good incentive to wear sunblock though!
I'll probably still have skin cancer by the time I'm 40. Grew up in the desert and never wore sunscreen.


@The Kendragon yeah my dad has been getting patches of his arms removed for a long time now. he's one of the whitest people on earth and was a beach lifeguard as a young adult, but it's still scary. i've been overdosing on SPF my whole life.


@itiresias Yeah I just figure that being a kid who loves the outdoors, hates sunblock, lived in one of the sunniest places in the world, at an elevation of 6,000 feet, is all gonna add up to early skin cancer.


sigh... is no organism safe!? one would think the water would reflect?
anecdotally, how is it that my grandparents who never wore sunscreen to this day and grew up on farms (aka in the sun all day) do not have skin cancer yet my mother who maybe tanned occaisonally in the 70s and sister at the age of 12, no tanning and perma-slathered in sunscreen have both had cancerous moles removed? aghhh does not compute.


This is as depressing as those stupid emails that the NRDC and Bill McKibben dump in my inbox every morning.


ie, I read them all, take a moment to think, and then maybe regret my sciencey education that isn't helping with this at all.


I thought we were more susceptible to sunburn in the water, so I am not surprised? The Ozone is a lot thinner around Australia, isn't it? Maybe it's just a regional thing?

Jenna Q

I think we are more susceptible when we have parts sticking out of the water, like a face or an abdomen or something like that, because it is reflecting onto the water and back on us, so it is hitting us in more than one way. Fish obviously don't have this problem because they are fully underneath. I might be wrong though.


So much stuff is going to give me cancer I just... Can't care. Like, I still think it's bad and want to stomp cancer for others, but my reaction to hearing about my future cancer is more like "Oh wow, you seem really concerned about my health for a complete stranger."

sudden but inevitable betrayal

I just found out the other day that my mom had a chunk of skin cancer taken out of her face. She pretty much mentioned it in passing, like "Oh, hey, just so you don't hear this from anyone else, a month ago I had cancer again." THANKS MOM.

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