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New research has discovered skin cancer in wild marine fish for the first time. In a study conducted by Newcastle University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, they found coral trout suffering from melanoma along the Great Barrier Reef. The reef is directly below the largest hole in the Earth's ozone layer. The cancer in these fish is almost identical to that found in humans.
The fish that were studied were healthy, but covered with extensive surface melanomas. The cancer did not appear to have spread to any areas below the skin. Further studies need to be done to assure that the exact cause of the cancer was not due to other factors, such as microbial pathogens or pollution, however the researchers are fairly certain that ultra-violet radiation will ultimately be determined to be the cause.
Until these fish were discovered along the Great Barrier Reef, the occurrence of melanoma in fish had only been observed in the laboratory. The findings appear to be too much of a coincidence for it not to be linked to the hole in the ozone layer.
Laurie Kay Olson
Animal News Blogger