$238,055 Grant for Unraveling the Mystery behind Increasing Population of Intersex Fish

It has been reported that researchers from University of Maryland would receive federal funds so that they can study why population of intersex fish has increased drastically in the Chesapeake Bay region. Intersex fish are known to have both male and female sexual characteristics.

The grant of $238,055 has been sanctioned by the US Geological Survey. Particularly, the grant has been offered so that researchers could study the concentration and effect of hormone pollution in the Bay watershed. They will also be studying the effect of pharmaceutical byproducts on flathead minnows.

The watershed covers parts of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

The pharmaceutical byproducts are generated from the agricultural overspills and through sewage treatment processes. During the study, researchers will mainly focus upon 'gestagens', the chemicals that can increase hormones in fish population.

Cardin, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works water and wildlife subcommittee, said, "To adequately protect our drinking water supplies and overall public health, we must understand the cause of the abnormal fish we are seeing locally".

It has been found that intersex characteristic of undeveloped eggs in male fish, have been found in the major rivers that drain out to the Bay. Bass fish has been reported as the most affected by the chemicals acting as synthetic or natural hormones.

USGS researcher Vicki Blazer said that he found a similar kind of intersex fish in Pennsylvania rivers. He said that the biggest sources of estrogenic chemicals are agricultural sources, including animal wastes, pesticides and herbicides. Some human sources include wastewater treatment plant effluents and sewage discharge.

US Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin said that the grant from the US Geological Survey will surely help researchers deeply understand the phenomena of the intersex fish.