TBT exposure causes female snails to grow penises on headsPublished On: Fri, Sep 10th, 2010 | Environment | By BioNews
After exposure to the chemical TBT, female marine snails living off the Perth coast are growing male sex organs on their heads, researchers have revealed.
Curtin University researchers have said the snails are suffering from imposex, a condition that involves the development of a second sex organ after being exposed to the chemical.
Monique Gagnon of Curtin University said studies on the marine snail Thais orbita over the past 10 years showed that although TBT contamination had declined at sites visited by recreational boats, a 100 per cent rate of imposex still existed at sites where commercial vessels were present.
“These high levels are believed to be related to the continuous input of TBT into the area over a period of years, resulting in the presence of significant quantities in the sediment on the sea floor,” News.com.au quoted her as saying.
She said studies had shown that imposex could stop the females from procreating, potentially reducing the number of snails in the shoreline environment.