Mercury and Animals

Last week I wrote about mercury poisoning in Minamata, Japan. The disease was referred to as the "disease of the dancing cats" because the domesticated cats also suffered from the strange behavior and convulsions experienced by the human patients (source).

Today, mercury is still harming animals, particularly wildlife. Any species which relies primarily on fish or seafood for food is particularly at risk.

Today, BBC News reported on the findings of biologists at the University of Saskatchewan. According to the research, the amount of mercury detected in the ivory gull has increased 45 fold over the last 130 years (source).

Although this study focused specifically on this species of gull, it seems likely that the impact on other species of sea birds with similar diets is comparable.

This study has a major implications on the state of the health of the environment and many endangered or threatened species. Since the ivory gull has a diet and geographic range similar to the polar bear, for example, further research may find similar results in other species (source).