The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


November 17, 2013

Susquehanna River bass show spike in melanosis


Looking for causes, and finding none

An expert in the field, British biologist Michael Sweet examined coral trout from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia that have black spots much like those on the smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna River.

Sweet used newer staining techniques for melanoma and reported that some of the pigment changes represented superficial malignant melanoma.

“I do not believe enough specimens have been done on the Susquehanna smallmouth,” Yingling said. “Newer cancer staining techniques have not been used to diagnose possible melanoma and I do not believe pathologists familiar with the diagnosis of melanoma have looked at the tissue.”

Susquehanna River smallmouth bass have 30-plus different organic chemicals that have been found in their bodies, Yingling said.

“It is my belief,” Yingling said, “that the chemical pollutants to which the Susquehanna smallmouth bass are exposed are creating this pigmentation problem. It is a serious problem and if it is cancer, then it is very significant because many Pennsylvanians are drinking the water and being exposed to the water containing these chemicals.”

More needs to be done to identify the pigmentation and its cause, he said.

“We should know much more after four years.”

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