Skin Cancer Threat to Great Barrier Reef Fish

The scientists have identified skin cancer that affects the fish in the Great Barrier Reef`s wild fish population. They found that this scourge to be identical to the melanomas which have been affecting human beings for quite a long time. This discovery was identified for the first time in the species on the world in Great Barrier Reef. It is linked to the Australia`s sunny climate which has also contributed to high rates of skin cancer to the human.

The disease coral trout which is also called Plectropomus leopardus, was identified in two locations in southern Great Barrier Reef marine park-Heron Islands and One Tree Islands. This was discovered by the team of researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Newcastle University in the United Kingdom.

In their research, scientist from Newcastle University in England found that around 15 per cent of the fish they captured had developed dark lesions on the surface of the skin. They kept seeing strange dark patches on the normal orange fish. After confirmation of the research they discover that the fish were developing tumor formation, they then found that the dark lesions were signs and syndromes of the skin cancer. Despite the signs in the skin, the fish was otherwise found to be healthy and has no any sign of illness.

The dark lesion which has developed in the skin of the fish is characteristic of melanomas created in the laboratories on fish species Xiphophorus according to the research. This calls for attention as the fish that has already shown the sign of the skin cancer is healthy and this means that there could be higher percentage  that are infected than expected.

As it has been suspected before ultra- violet radiations was found by the research to be the  major factor that causes skin cancer to the fish. Whales are highly affected by this and they were discovered to suffer from sunburn. This is contributed by the weakness of their skin which is very sensitive and when exposed to this radiation usually reacts.

The studies show that the sample of fish that were caught in protected and less polluted area endures low chances of getting skin cancer caused by carcinogenic pollutants.

It is coincidence that the cancer occurred in the Great Barrier Reef to both human and the fish. This is basically contributed by the geographic position of this area, which sits under the outer reaches of the ozone hole centered over Antarctica. This greatly exposes the area to harmful ultra violet radiation which is known to be causing cancer to the skin. Location of Great Barrier Reef is at edge of the coral trout’s range and this is also suspected increase its vulnerability to cancer.

Further work has to be done since the researchers were unable to determine the certain the reason why the incidence of melanoma was so high in these fish. If the proper reason would be that of its geographic location, the habitat would have to undergo sufferings and the risks of contracting other relate diseases trying to cope to the environment. Fish should therefore live close to their threshold, which could compromises their immune system.