Antarctic sea ice may be a source of mercury in southern ocean fauna

August 1, 2016
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A research team from Australia has found methylmercury in Antarctic sea ice, this chemical substance is a result of natural changing. The sea-ice bacteria is able to transform mercury into methylmercury, the latter is toxic to the marine environment, it can poisoning fish and birds, the marine fauna.

An international team of marine ecologists published their findings in the journal Nature Microbiology, an article tells about the mercury in Antarctic sea ice and its influence on the marine fauna. Actually, mercury is one of the common elements in the sea waters but its transformation into the methylmercury may be dangerous to the marine inhabitants like birds and fish.

Being ingested by humans (as a marine food), methylmercury can reach the brain and cause pathologies in the development of foetuses, infants and kids. The leading authors of the research Caitlin Gionfriddo and Dr. John Moreau noted:

“Larger fish eat smaller contaminated fish, and continuously accumulate methylmercury at harmful levels for human consumption.”

Among the scientists were researchers from the University of Melbourne and its Centre for Systems Genomics, as well as from the US Geological Survey and Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

The geomicrobiologists wanted to know how long is mercury’s lifecycle in the atmosphere, this knowledge could clear the ways of dissemination of this element in the environment and even how it appears in Antarctic ice. As Dr Robyn Schofield explained:

This means that mercury released through fossil fuel burning from countries over 3000 km away goes up in the atmosphere and ends up in Antarctica.”

In other words, the scientists intended to understand maximum about marine mercury pollution, which can cause the climatic change and poisoning the marine fauna.

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