Toxic Metal Poisoning May Have Led Pilot Whales off Course
A pod of 21 stranded whales that died on a Scottish beach had high levels of toxic metals in their brains.
Tests found mercury and cadmium build-ups in the long-finned pilot whales that beached in Fife in 2012.
Researchers said the levels of mercury were high enough to cause neurological damage in humans – and could be a reason for them navigating off course.
The pod of 31 whales was stranded on a beach between Anstruther and Pittenweem on September 12, 2012.
Only 10 could be refloated, with 21 – 16 females and five males – dying.
Scientists also found that cadmium can cross the blood-brain barrier.
The research was led by the University of Aberdeen, working with the Scottish Marine Animal Stranding Scheme.
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