Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mutant Two-Headed Sharks Are Becoming A More Frequent Occurrence

Two-headed sharks are real and they are being found more frequently worldwide. This mutation appears to be a lethal gene for the two-headed sharks since the reported two-headed sharks were found dead as pups or still in their birthing sac. There have been reports internationally about the findings of two-headed shark embryo being found from Mexico to the Indian Ocean. The majority of the two-headed shark fetuses are a member of the species; the blue shark. In the wild, there is more likely a chance of a mutation to occur in blue sharks' genetics due to the large number of offspring they are able to produce. However, scientists are starting to see this same mutation in laboratory captivity of sharks where there was no exposure to infections, chemicals, or radiation. The main reason for this mutation of two-headed sharks appears to point at a genetic disorder. Other theories for the malformations include environmental factors such as dwindling down gene pool due to overfishing and water pollution. There are some that consider this to be a viral infection or a metabolic disorder. Conservationists are seeming to take this as evidence of overfishing most of all to blame. Overfishing causes fish to inbreed and their genetic diversity to shrink. This causes mutations to happen. This is a difficult topic to research because although there are more sightings of two-headed shark embryos, it is still a random and rare process to find them. 

Genetic mutations are becoming more and more of a frequent news story for animals. I think, and have been reading many articles to support my thought process, that most genetic mutations in animals in the wild come from environmental factors. The way we treat this world it is surprising that more animals aren't horribly mutated. In marine animals, this is an especially prevalent issue. There are over two million tons of sewage, industrial and agricultural waste polluting our water by discarding every single day. When the water is full of carcinogens and chemicals the natural cycle will respond with more genetic deformities in animals. Realizing that overfishing minimizes the gene pool and causes for more inbreeding and thus mutations makes you realize that overfishing hurts not only the fish we are killing but the ones we leave in the water as well. If a two-headed shark mutates to be able to live past sexual maturity and fall into it's place in the food chain, the waters will have a much scarier version of Jaws than anyone ever wanted to see. I believe funding for conservation efforts will minimize genetic deformities because it will provide a larger gene drift.  I believe that there will be more horror stories about mutations in animals as the future comes, with it hitting marine animals even worse. This is especially true if shale energy and the fracking industry continue to pollute our waters.

ABC News. "Is Overfishing Changing the Gene Pool?" ABC Biotechnology News. ABC News Network, 19 Jan. 2006. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. <http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=1514544>. 
FAO. "Prionace Glauca (Linnaeus, 1758)." Species Fact Sheet. FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture, 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. <http://www.fao.org/fishery/species/2018/en>. 
Learn, Joshua Rapp. "Two-Headed Sharks Keep Popping Up-No One Knows Why." National Geographic Weird & Wild News. National Geographic Society, 2 Nov. 2016. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/11/sharks-two-headed-oceans-mutations/>. 
Public Engagement Team from Wellcome Genome Campus. "What Is a Genetic Disorder?" Targeting Disease Facts. Wellcome Genome Campus, 13 Nov. 2014. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. <http://www.yourgenome.org/facts/what-is-a-genetic-disorder>. 
Ross, Nancy. "Global Water Pollution." World Water Quality Facts and Statistics. Pacific Institute, 2010. Web. 22 Nov. 2016. <http://pacinst.org/app/uploads/2013/02/water_quality_facts_and_stats3.pdf>.


  1. This is so awesome! I have never seen this before in sharks! It's a shame that the gene is lethal but makes me wonder if any can actually survive this. There are other animals and species, including humans that can survive such a unique mutation. I hope that another mutation occurs that actually allows these sharks to live. At the vet office I work at, we actually had a cat that gave birth to a kitten with two heads. Unfortunately, the kitten died a couple days later but it is really amazing!

  2. Now that is something you do not see every day. I agree that large industries have to stop polluting the ocean but the entire world is to blame for that, including ourselves. We are most definitely over fishing an that for sure is affecting fish populations. When we overfish a certain species of fish, the fish that ate those fish now are in trouble but the fish that were eaten by the fish we overfished now are at larger numbers do to not having that prey chasing them. My point is that we are just thinking of that overfished fish not the massive chain reaction that is happening.