Are Record Levels Of Cocaine Discovered In Thames River Making Fish High? Expert Says No

"You haven't got a lot of disco-dancing fish down the bottom of the Thames," expert says.

Freshwater eels.
PENEBAR / Pixabay

"You haven't got a lot of disco-dancing fish down the bottom of the Thames," expert says.

After recent reports of elevated excitement levels in eels from the Thames river and the potential link to the cocaine use of Londoners, an expert has stepped forward to report that cocaine levels are probably not making fish high.

According to Fox News, new research by King’s College London has shown that record levels of cocaine being recorded in the Thames river has been one of the reasons associated with eels being reported as “‘hyperactive.”

The scientists involved in this study studied wastewater that was entering the Thames river from nearby sewers. Traces of cocaine as well as caffeine and the metabolite called benzoylecgonine were found within these samples “within 24 hours of the overflow.” While the sewers are treated before entering the Thames, major storms reportedly overwhelmed the system, leading to the discovery.

It was also reported that the traces of cocaine — a result of users’ urine entering the river — was considered higher compared to other major cities.

In addition to this, “Jellyologst” James Robson, a senior curator at SEA LIFE London, told the Independent that the effects of cocaine could be considered similar in marine life as to that recorded in humans.

“Drugs which affect us will almost always affect all animal life, and invertebrates a little bit more because their biochemistry is much more sensitive,” said Robson.

“Essentially everything in the water will be affected by drugs like these. A lot of the triggers and the ways that cocaine affects the system is really primal.”

Image of the Thames River
  liushuquan / Pixabay

A study that was released last year by researchers with the University of Naples Federico II suggested that elevated levels of cocaine could account for some instances of hyperactivity as well as reported absorption of the drug in the eels brains, muscles, gills, and skin.

“This study shows that even low environmental concentrations of cocaine cause severe damage to the morphology and physiology of the skeletal muscle of the silver eel, confirming the harmful impact of cocaine in the environment that potentially affects the survival of this species,” said the authors of the study, which was published in Science of the Total Environment.

However, James Robson disputes the claim that eels are highly affected by their cocaine absorption.

“You haven’t got a lot of disco-dancing fish down the bottom of the Thames,” Robson told the Independent.

Robson cited the fact that cocaine levels used in the Naples study were considerably higher than those recently discovered in the Thames river. He also discussed the high caffeine levels also found in the river and the fact that these levels are insignificant when compared to some of the other factors affecting marine life.

“Before you would worry about something like caffeine increasing the heart rate, I would be much more concerned about things like climate change affecting the temperature and plastics pollution. Those do much more significant damage to the ecosystem.”