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Toxic Metal Poisoning May Have Led Pilot Whales off Course

Source: Mirror/Pamela Paterson - February 12, 2016 in Environment

Toxic Metal Poisoning May Have Led Pilot Whales off Course
Photo: Richard Walker/Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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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