Our Antidepressants Are Harming Marine Animals

iStock
iStock

An estimated 13 percent of Americans are currently taking prescription medication for depression, a 65 percent increase since the early 2000s. These drugs typically act as stimulants for neurotransmitters in the brain, which help regulate mood. While the effect is often beneficial for humans, scientists are beginning to learn it's having some unintended consequences for other species.

In a study recently published in Ecology and Evolution and covered by Newsweek, researchers at Portland State University took a closer look at how discarded antidepressants that wind up in inhabited waters impact marine life. The authors introduced fluoxetine, the main ingredient in Prozac, into a laboratory body of water inhabited by Oregon shore crabs, or Hemigrapsus oregonensis. Normally, the crabs are nocturnal foragers, avoiding confrontation and hiding in sediment when predators appear.

After being exposed to the drug, the crabs exhibited a dramatic change in behavior. Instead of shying away from predators—in the lab study, the larger red rock crab—they became more confrontational, increasing the risk of an early death. They also became more active during the day and displayed aggression towards other crabs, engaging in fights.

Drugs like fluoxetine end up in inhabited waters in a number of ways. Some people flush unwanted medication down the toilet, a measure that's even recommended by the FDA when users need to quickly dispose of dangerous drugs like OxyContin. Contamination from trash or human urine and stool can also be sources of pollution; a USGS study published earlier this year found antidepressants in the brains of fish living downstream from wastewater treatment plants. The study's authors warn that increased populations near coastal regions may worsen the issue. It's also unknown how concentrations of several different drugs can combine to alter behavior. Right now, it looks like our solution to one problem—depression—may have a host of ecological repercussions.

[h/t Newsweek]

This Smart Accessory Converts Your Instant Pot Into an Air Fryer

Amazon
Amazon

If you can make a recipe in a slow cooker, Dutch oven, or rice cooker, you can likely adapt it for an Instant Pot. Now, this all-in-one cooker can be converted into an air fryer with one handy accessory.

This Instant Pot air fryer lid—currently available on Amazon for $80—adds six new cooking functions to your 6-quart Instant Pot. You can select the air fry setting to get food hot and crispy fast, using as little as 2 tablespoons of oil. Other options include roast, bake, broil, dehydrate, and reheat.

Many dishes you would prepare in the oven or on the stovetop can be made in your Instant Pot when you switch out the lids. Chicken wings, French fries, and onion rings are just a few of the possibilities mentioned in the product description. And if you're used to frying being a hot, arduous process, this lid works without consuming a ton of energy or heating up your kitchen.

The lid comes with a multi-level air fry basket, a broiling and dehydrating tray, and a protective pad and storage cover. Check it out on Amazon.

For more clever ways to use your Instant Pot, take a look at these recipes.

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A Bald Eagle Nest With Eggs Has Been Spotted on Cape Cod for the First Time Since 1905

6381380/iStock via Getty Images
6381380/iStock via Getty Images

America's bald eagle population has made an incredible comeback in recent decades, and evidence of this can be seen on Cape Cod. As Boston.com reports, a bald eagle nest with a baby chick has been spotted on the Cape for the first time in more than a century.

The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife spotted the nest in Barnstable, Massachusetts. It's one of more than 70 eagle's nests that have popped up around the state this year, with others being documenting in Concord, Medford, and Northampton. Any eagle nest with eggs is considered active, and according to a photo snapped by a Mass Audubon Long Pasture volunteer, the Cape Cod site has already hatched a chick.

A bald eagle nest with eggs was last recorded on Cape Cod in 1905. In the years that followed, hunting, habitat loss, and insecticides like DDT decimated their numbers, resulting in the birds' addition to the Endangered Species List.

Thanks to conservation efforts and the ban of DDT, this trend has been reversed. Their numbers have grown from to just 471 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states in 1963 to nearly 10,000 today. The species is no longer considered endangered, and as the new Cape Cod nest shows, the birds are beginning to show up in places they haven't been seen in a lifetime.

If you're curious to see if bald eagles live your neighborhood, their nests are easy to spot. The average bald eagle nest is 2- to 4-feet deep and 4- to 5-feet wide—the largest of any North American bird.

[h/t Boston.com]