Love Shellfish? New Study Suggests Oysters Might Contain Bacteria, Plastics and Baby Formula : MEDICINE & HEALTH : Science Times



Scientists from the University of California, Irvine, in collaboration with the University of Queensland and Environmental Defense Fund, Cornell University, yield an alarming discovery after conducting the first landmark study using high technology to examine the contaminants of oysters.

Love Shellfish? New Study Suggests Oysters Might Contain Bacteria, Plastics and Baby Formula

Their study reveals that oysters are contaminated with human bacterial pathogens and micro debris like plastics, kerosene, talc, paint, and baby formula.

The study was conducted in the eastern part of the Andaman Sea, with the help of local researchers in Myanmar in the rural Tanintharyi region. The researchers found that coastal urbanization and lack of sewage treatment contaminates seafood and, in turn, poses health risks for humans.



The findings of their research were published in Science of the Total Environment.

Read: Marine Plastic Pollution Harms Bacteria That Help Us Breathe

What’s Inside the Shellfish?

The study covered nine coral reefs off the Mergui Archipelago of Myanmar situated roughly 40 miles from the city of Myeik that has over 250,000 residents.

The researchers used the next-generation DNA sequencing technology to reveal 5,459 potential human pathogens of 87 species of bacteria. More than 50% of these bacteria are harmful to human health.

Additionally, they used infrared spectroscopy to examine human-derived micro debris found in oysters and found 78 different contaminants.

Study senior author Joleah Lamb, an assistant professor of ecology & evolutionary biology at UCI, said that 48% of the contaminants they found in oysters were microplastics. However, many other particles were also present and not just plastics.

They were surprised to find constituents of fuel, paint, cosmetics, and three different brands of powdered milk that comprise 14% of the micro debris.

The pathogens and microparticles reflect the pervasive presence of sewage and other human-derived micro debris, which implies that coastal urbanization has led to the contamination of vital marine species globally.

Read Also: Happy As A Clam: Boracay Beach Front Covered in Clams Has Caught the Attention of Netizens in Social Media

Implications for Human Health

The study’s implications for human health are very important. Oysters in the study area and anywhere that is part of the local diet consume the shellfish raw and whole. The contaminants found suggest that even areas such as rural Myanmar, far from the urban cities, have significant pollution from agricultural and human waste.

Today, more than 50% of seafood exports come from developing countries, which raises concerns about food safety and security worldwide.

But aside from pathogens present in shellfish, experts are very much concerned about the predominance of microplastics and its other types that are present in seafood that could adversely affect the environment and human health.

Microplastics such as persistent organic pollutants, or POPs carry toxins that enter the seafood and eventually transferred to people through food. That means, microplastics in the marine environment could be an emerging health risk to the people worldwide.

The authors are also concerned that over 50% of the micro debris detected in the Myanmar oyster tissues are polymer materials that are harmful to human health. These are kerosene, saponin, and talc.

Furthermore, the presence of milk supplement reveals that there is a direct fecal-oral link between sewage and human waste that is making its way back to the food chain. Therefore, it elevates further the risk of contamination or, worse, disease transmission.

These sparrows are singing a new song, in a rapid, unprecedented shift

By Corryn Wetzel

A white-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) singing in Manitoba, Canada, where a new distinctive call has replaced an old one.Photograph by Glenn Bartley, Minden Pictures

Most birds have distinct calls that tend to stay the same. It’s how birders can recognize a species without seeing it. But new research shows these tunes can change.

Over the course of two decades, white-throated sparrows across western and central Canada have changed one of their songs, replacing a three-note call with a two-note one. The new tune started in British Columbia and spread east—now, most of Canada’s birds are singing it. And it’s still spreading in Quebec, more than 2,000 miles from where it originated.

Although some bird calls undergo slow evolutions, this rapid shift in a bird’s song has never been observed before, says Ken Otter, lead author of the study, published July 2 in the journal Current Biology.

“There is nothing that we know of that’s spread like this,” Otter says.

As the song sweeps west to east, ornithologists wonder what makes the song so catchy—and if the trend will continue. The finding was made possible by crowd-sourced birdsong recordings, which are uncovering patterns that may have previously gone unnoticed.

A song is born

Birdsongs are not just pleasant to listen to, they’re also rich with information, such as the health and fitness of the speaker. Like other birds, male sparrows sing to establish territory and to entice females. It’s only the males that sing certain tunes, and they learn them during a critical window early in their development.

Otter, who studies bird behavior and communication at the University of Northern British Columbia, first noticed that something was up with sparrow calls in the late 1990s. He was doing fieldwork in British Columbia, just west of the Rocky Mountains, with a colleague who usually studies eastern populations of the species.

“We were walking around… and he suddenly said, ‘Your sparrows sound weird.’” Otter hadn’t noticed it before but agreed—they did sound different.

“White-throated sparrows have this classic song that’s supposed to sound like it goes, ‘Oh, my sweet Canada, Canada, Canada,’” he explains. “And our birds sound like they’re going, ‘Oh, my sweet Cana– Cana– Cana– Canada.’”

The new song trend emerged by the 1990s in northern British Columbia, where Otter and his colleague first heard the “weird” call. From there, it crept east, moving across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

In 2004, about half the sparrows in Alberta were singing the new doublet ending, but by 2014, every sparrow in the area had made the shift. By 2015, every sparrow west of central Ontario was singing the doublet ending. It didn’t stop there. In western Quebec, nearly 2,000 miles from where the song began, it’s still spreading.

Knowing that bird songs must be learned from others, Otter and his colleges suspected that eastern and western sparrows may be crossing paths.

In 2013 and 2016, they strapped geolocators to 50 male sparrows breeding in Prince George, British Columbia, to track their seasonal migration path and areas where they winter.

Otter says he expected the western sparrow populations to travel directly south to their overwintering areas in California. Instead, the birds crossed the Rocky Mountains, meeting up with eastern populations in the southern Great Plains of the United States, in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas. This convergence of western and eastern sparrows may act as a tutoring ground for young males, which could learn the new song before returning to their respective breeding ranges.

Using two decades of citizen-recorded data, including more than 1,785 recordings, Otter and his team were able to map the song’s spread. Charting the new song in blue and the old song in red, Otter’s maps show a cascade of blue dots crashing east from 2000 to 2019. Only a thin ribbon of red dots—birds singing the old song—still clings to the eastern edge of the country.

“It’s cool to realize that this sort of happenstance pattern of migration allowed [some sparrows] to then hear birds singing the other form of song”—and then spread—“like a viral contagion,” says Jeffrey Podos, who studies birdsong at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was not involved in the study.

Podos isn’t surprised the birds are learning from each other, but he admits that the pace at which the new song spread is “somewhat surprising.”

“It’s like a blue wave,” he says.

Trendy tweet

New variations of songs crop up constantly, but the vast majority of these aren’t picked up by other birds.

“For some reason, some birds just went deviant,” says Podos, describing the advent of the new doublet-ending song. “You figure it would have just died on the vine, but somehow other birds must have found it interesting.”

Otter and his team didn’t find that birds singing new doublet-ending songs were better at wooing mates or defending territories, so it doesn’t appear to be advantageous or deleterious. This just adds to the mystery of the song’s virality.

“The only thing that we can think of is that the females might have a preference for something that’s slightly novel,” Otter says.

It’s possible that sweeping evolutions in songs like this have happened before but went undetected. Otter’s work relied on recordings from eBird and Xeno-Canto, databases which contain birdsongs recorded and uploaded by people around the world.

Bob Planqué, a cofounder of Xeno-Canto and mathematics professor at Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, says this crowd-sourced information is “a tremendous boon to academia.” One reason this model lends itself so well to studying birds, says Planqué, is that recording songs is easy and accessible. Planqué says hundreds of papers a year rely on Xeno-Canto data, which includes over half a million recordings.

Crowd-sourced science is “like having thousands of research assistants spread out across the continent,” Otter says. “It’s allowing researchers to tap into a totally different avenue of research [and] to look at this on a very big scale that was never there before.”

I hope that was his car… 😂

I hope the horses stepped on their feet!

So when are they leaving…I’ll help them pack!

Portland Man Charged with Assaulting Deputy U.S. Marshal with Explosive Device During Courthouse Protest

PORTLAND, Ore.—U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced today that Isaiah Jason Maza, Jr., 18, of Portland, has been charged by criminal complaint with assaulting a federal officer with a dangerous weapon and willfully damaging government property during protests at the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on July 22, 2020.

According to court documents, in the early morning hours of July 22, 2020, a group of individuals gathered in an exterior entryway of the Hatfield Federal Courthouse. Several members of the group, including Maza, began removing plywood attached to the front of the building to protect its damaged glass façade. After the group successfully removed the plywood sheeting, Maza made multiple attempts to kick in the window, struck it with a metal object, and repeatedly pounded on it with what appeared to be a hammer.

Shortly thereafter, a number of people successfully removed the entire wooden structure protecting the courthouse entryway and an unknown individual broke one of the windows. After this breach, Maza walked toward the building carrying a cylindrical object. Maza then appeared to light a fuse connected to the object and place it inside the broken window. A short time later, the object exploded in close proximity to law enforcement officers exiting the building through the broken window. A deputy U.S. Marshal sustained injuries to both his legs as a result of the blast.

On July 31, 2020, deputy U.S. Marshals spotted Maza less than one block from the courthouse. Maza ran from the deputy marshals who pursued him several blocks by foot before catching and arresting him.

Maza made his first appearance in federal court today before a U.S. Magistrate Judge and was ordered detained pending further court proceedings.

Assaulting a federal officer with a dangerous weapon is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Willfully damaging government property is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

This case is being jointly investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon.

Criminal complaints are only accusations of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.