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Skin cancer found in reef fish

By Matt Stansbery Posted Aug 03, 2012 12:16 PM
Tropical reef animals are bombarded by intense sunlight for the majority of the day, so it is surprising that only now have scientists identified widespread skin cancer on reef fish.
Skin cancer found in reef fish

Skin cancer found on Coral Trout.

For the first time, scientists have identified widespread skin cancer on an important reef fish species. The Coral Trout (Plectropomus leopardus) was the center of a study conducted by the Newcastle University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science collecting specimens from the southern portion of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park: Heron Island and One Tree Island.

"The individuals we looked at had extensive -- but only surface -- melanomas," explains Doctor Michael Sweet who led a team that studied 136 sample fish. “UV radiation appears to be the likely cause," explains Dr. Sweet.  Of the136 specimens, 15% (20 fish) exhibited melanomas lesions on surface of their skin covering from 5% to 98% of their body.

The entire study is available at PLoS ONE.


Dr Michael Sweet is a main contributor to the website Aquarium Coral DiseasesRead Advanced Aquarist's interview with Dr. Sweet.

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