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Skin cancer found in Great Barrier Reef fish by Fron Jackson-Webb August 06,2012   |  Source: Asian Scientist

Scientists have identified skin cancer in the Great Barrier Reef’s wild fish populations which is almost identical to melanomas found in humans.

The team of researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and Newcastle University in the United Kingdom caught the diseased coral trout, or Plectropomus leopardus, in two locations in the southern Great Barrier Reef Marine Park – Heron Island and One Tree Island.

UV-induced melanoma in fish has until now only been seen under laboratory conditions and has been used as a model to study the progress of human skin cancer due to the similarities in the disease.

The findings are published today in the journal PLoS ONE.

“Beyond health implications for individual fish, this syndrome may have implications for the population as a whole and the commercial and recreational fisheries that exploit this species,” the study said.

While the sample of infected fish had extensive surface melanomas, the cancer had not spread deeper than the skin, meaning the fish were basically healthy.

“Once the cancer spreads further you would expect the fish to become quite sick, becoming less active and possibly feeding less, hence less likely to be caught,” said lead author Dr. Michael Sweet from the University of


© 2011-2012 Asian Scientist Publishing Pte. Ltd.

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