While global pollution is a serious issue for most of the researchers in the field, a team of scientists have discovered that the levels of mercury in seabirds off the coast of British Columbia did not change over the past half a century. The new research suggests that, in fact, the mercury in seabirds is a little lower.
(From Tech Times / by Livia Rusu)– Although in normal conditions this would be great news, a drop in the number of fish stocks close to the surface has caused the birds to make a change in their dietary habits, which resulted in eating from areas that are lower in bacteria. This occurrence is all the more negative, as bacteria have a role in controlling the levels of mercury in their bodies.
While very small, bacteria have an essential role in the biological functions of different forms of life — from people to seabirds. Researchers from the McGill University and Environment and Climate Change Canada have conducted a study, which suggests that bacteria are also essential when it comes to the birds’ health.
As part of the analysis, the team employed stable isotopes in order to understand whether seabirds feeding in areas that are rich in sulfate were high in mercury. When they reached the conclusion that indeed the sulfate levels were high, they connected this fact to the higher levels of mercury in birds who feed in those areas.
The areas that are rich in sulfate are a result of the sulfate-reducing bacteria, which produce methylmercury, a very toxic substance. When the fish ingest it, it becomes easier for the seabirds who feed with the fish to get poisoned.
Read the full article here: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/189303/20161219/bacteria-help-manage-pollutant-levels-seabirds-study.htm