The L.A. Times story about fish Down Under getting skin cancer could’ve been a funny, though macabre, read if the subject weren’t so sad. After noting that 15 percent of coral trout in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are believed to have cancerous lesions on their scales, writer Jon Bardin adds, “In that regard, they resemble Australians who live on land — two in three people who live down under will be diagnosed with skin cancer before the age of 70, the highest rate in the world.”
This is serious news, though, because the takeaway goes beyond the fact that Aussies won’t be throwing coral trout on the barbie any time soon. The fishes’ affliction apparently stems from their habitat, which lies under the outer fringes of the giant Antarctic ozone hole that’s been letting in ultraviolet rays since the invention of refrigerants. These UV rays are strongly suspected of causing the trout’s melanoma – as they are of causing it in humans.