If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a crab and also be on Prozac, look no further. Scientists now have a detailed understanding of how the crustaceans act while doped up on the infamous anti-depressant.
The crabs drugged with Prozac were bad crabs too. At least according to the researchers who conducted the study. The researchers weren’t interested in finding the right dose of the antidepressant (generic name fluoxetine hydrochloride) to treat anxious or depressed crabs. They were instead interested in seeing how the drug, which makes its way into the crabs’ ocean home through contaminated runoff (like human urine), might affect the animal’s behavior, the study researchers said.
That’s pretty important research considering about 1600 people die every day from cancer. And what the researchers found won’t impact anyone’s life in any meaningful way – not even the crabs’. But nonetheless, they found that the bay shore crab (Hemigrapsus oregonensis) stops hiding from its predators (someimes and maybe) when exposed to low levels of fluoxetine hydrochloride, the researchers wrote online September 30 in the journal Ecology and Evolution. So the crabs proverbially “grow a pair.” I’ve seen people do this after one shot of tequila.
“The changes we observed in their behaviors may mean that crabs living in harbors and estuaries contaminated with fluoxetine are at greater risk of predation and mortality,” study researcher Elise Granek, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Management at Portland State University, said in a statement.
Fluoxetine is a class of antidepressant called an SSRI, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, meaning it indirectly boosts the amount of mood-altering serotonin available to the brain. It’s designed to affect people’s brains in a way that can alleviate depressive symptoms. But past research has shown that when a person’s fluoxetine-filled waste enters waterways, it can alter the shore crabs’ reproductive, molting, and digestive behaviors; it may even cause the crabs to abandon their nocturnal schedule, according to the paper. –Live Science
The researchers even admitted that there’s a downfall to this kind of “project” which amounts to drugging an animal instead of working on the problem of too many drugs in the ocean. AKA, why so many humans need Prozac, to begin with.
Does this mean that their study was just plain worthless? Probably. And they pretty much admit it. It was a waste of time and money that could have been better spent making a real contribution to science. For example, curing depression would not only fix the “human urine pollution” of Prozac in the oceans that cause crabs to “act like badasses”, it would also help humanity. But by all means, don’t strike the root or anything…
In a laboratory re-creation of the crabs’ oceanic habitat, Elise Granek and her colleagues dosed the water with small amounts of fluoxetine and watched how the animals behaved over several weeks. Each crab tank contained a large male, a smaller male, and a small female, and there were 10 tanks for each dosage of fluoxetine: one group had 3 nanograms of fluoxetine per liter of seawater, one had 30 nanograms per liter and a third control group had no medication. This whole thing is sexist too. (cue the sarcasm font) Where’s the larger female crab? Anyone? Why not include one?
The drugged crabs also fought among each other more often than those not exposed to fluoxetine. Of the drugged crabs (across doses), 25 were killed by the predator crab and another six male crabs died in battle with another shore crab. Thirteen of the 25 crabs that were eaten by a predator were in the most heavily-medicated group, as were four of the six crabs that died in a duel.
Over time, the highest-dose group showed even more risky behaviors and fights: These crabs were most likely to engage in risky activity after being in their medicated tanks for seven to nine weeks, the researchers said. And all of this is caused by pharmaceutical concentrations lower than those found in polluted areas. –Live Science
So, the conclusion is:
“With growing human populations in coastal zones, increasing use of antidepressants like fluoxetine is expected, suggesting higher future concentrations in the marine environment,” according to the researchers in their paper.
So why not try to cure depression instead of dope up crabs? “Two birds with one stone” is the saying….
Well, I can only come up with one reason. Because it’s 2017. And in 2017, we no longer work toward curing cancer or depression or AIDS. We just put crabs on Prozac and call it a day while proudly proclaiming there’s been a contribution toward science. That’s the real important issue after all- how crabs respond to the drug that ends up in waterways. Not the fact that so many people are on Prozac to begin with.
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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.