A new study brings to light the incidence of drugs and found in the juvenile chinook salmon caught in Puget sound in September 2014. Such drugs as cocaine, Advil, Prozac, Lipitor, Benedryl, and more were found present in the tissues of the tested salmon as well as sculpin that resided in the estuary waters in the Puget Sound by the Wastewater treatment plant outfall in Sinclair Inlet and in the Nisqually Estuary. A total of 81 substances were detected in the tissues of the salmon and sculpin though the waters did not test nearly those levels leading scientists to believe that the fish studies were suggesting a bioaccumulation of those substances.

Baby salmon reside in the river as alevin until they consume all of their yolk sac after which they have to find food themselves and start to eat plankton and are called fry. By end of summer they have further developed in the fresh water into parr, have a pattern of spots and bars on their skin to hide them while they consume small invertebrates and grow larger. As the salmon approach the time to go out to sea they lose their spots and stripes and change further to let them adapt to the ocean environment. At this point they are called smolts and they spend time in the estuary waters which are a mix of salt and fresh water until their physiological changes are complete and at the smolt stage they develop their silvery scales to help visually confuse their predators. Once they reach 15 – 20 CM in length they start the ocean phase of their lives but while they change they can remain in the estuary waters for quite a few months.

It is in the smolt stage that they are accumulating the cocktail of different drugs that are showing up in their tissues.

What does this mean for humans? Most don’t consume the baby salmon and the salmon will likely be migrated out of this area long before they bite a fisherman’s line so it likely won’t affect human health according to Meador…. but…. It is affecting the mortality rate of the juvenile salmon which die at twice the rate of areas not affected by the alphabet soup of drugs, chemicals and contaminants.

Human growth in the area is continuing to increase which only stands to say that these drugs, contaminants and other chemicals in wastewater will only increase. Are we flushing these things are or are they a by-product of human consumption? What can we do to further filter out the toxins or neutralize them into something harmless? How can we look at protecting such important keystone species as our salmon?

For further details please feel free to view the newscasts and studies…. Our thanks to Norm for pointing out the study and results….