For decades, the intelligence levels of dolphins have often been compared to that of humans. Now, it seems, there is another comparison to be made between dolphins and humans, and it’s not exactly a good thing. For many years, it was thought that Alzheimer’s Disease was something that only affected humans, but not it looks like the disease is present in dolphins, too.
In fact, researchers have said that Alzheimer’s is the reason that many dolphins beach themselves.
The discovery has some far-reaching implications. Most notably, it suggests that environmental toxins might play a bigger part in causing the disease than was initially thought. BMAA has often been linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, and now that it’s been found in dolphins, most researchers agree that it’s a direct result of BMAA exposure. BMAA is produced as a result of algae blooms that occur in the dolphins’ natural habitat
It’s certainly a situation that isn’t good for dolphins, and there will likely be plans to reduce the cases. However, one positive thing that is coming from an unfortunate situation is that the detection of Alzheimer’s in dolphins could serve as an early warning system for toxic exposure to humans in the same areas.
It certainly isn’t the first time that Alzheimer’s and BMAA have been linked. Many studies have been conducted to show how degeneration can occur in the neurological systems of humans and other species as a result of BMAA present in foods. Dolphins are now a part of that growing list.
Researchers aren’t quite as positive that BMAA causes Alzheimer’s plaques in humans in the same way it does in dolphins, but no one can deny just how nasty they are and the fact that they do negatively impact brain activity at some level. At any rate, the discovery in the dolphins certainly creates a need for more investigation.
The connection to environmental concerns here is that the BMAA comes from algae blooms, which increase as water temperatures rise—something that has been a serious concern over the past several years. It’s one more example of how increasing our environmental efforts will not only benefit the planet but our own health as a species, too.