Fish changing sex due to warmer climate warn experts

Fish in warmers waters are more likely to change sex when exposed to the hormone-disrupting effects of a chemical, according to new research.

Zebrafish changing sex due to warmer climate

Zebrafish changing sex due to warmer climate. Image by kamujp / CC BY 2.0

In the trials Zebrafish were exposed to clotrimazole , a component used in anti-fungal skin creams - with concentrations similar to those currently found when they swim into Britain’s waterways.

The Daily Express reports that the numbers of male fish were higher when water temperatures rose to levels predicted for the year 2100. Ironically, 20 years ago, a study discovered that male fish in UK rivers were turning female.

It is thought they were exposed to female hormones discharged into the water from sewage plants.

The results of the latest study produced by Exeter University in conjunction with chemical giant AstraZeneca also found that inbred fish were more vulnerable in these circumstances. This report, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlighted future risks to to endangered species with small populations.

The EU is looking to tighten up its restrictions on the discharge of hormone-disrupting chemicals into waterways and other areas of the environment.

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