Bonefish are a family of fish found throughout the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and tarpons are found in the Atlantic and Indo-Pacific oceans.
Researchers took blood and tissue samples from 93 bonefish in Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys since 2018, when the study started. They found each bonefish had an average of seven pharmaceuticals present, including blood pressure medications, antidepressants, prostate treatment medications, antibiotics and pain relievers, according to the release. One fish had a total of 17 different pharmaceuticals in its tissues.
The findings reflect a serious problem with ocean contamination from human wastewater, the university said.
“These findings are truly alarming,” Jennifer Rehage, a coastal and fish ecologist and associate professor at the university, said in the release. “Pharmaceuticals are an invisible threat, unlike algal blooms or turbid waters. Yet these results tell us that they are a formidable threat to our fisheries, and highlight the pressing need to address our longstanding wastewater infrastructure issues.”
The pharmaceutical contaminants can also negatively affect bonefish behavior.