Dangers of Canned Tuna


I’d like to preface this entry with my strong recommendation to read “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” by Rick Smith & Bruce Lourie. I talked about reading this book for my Toxicology I class back at the end of October. I had finally gotten the chance to finish it before the term ended in December, and I really loved what I learned about the classes of common chemicals in consumer products. It also really emphasizes the point that while we cannot avoid completely the dangerous chemicals we have synthesized and incorporated into our daily life, it does not mean that we should not be aware and attempt to limit the amount of contact we have. A large amount of control can be done by checking the contents of what products we are buying.


Figure 1. “Slow Death by Rubber Duck: How the Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Life Affects Our Health” book cover.

Chapter 5: The Tuna Feast Experiment

Chapter 5 entitled “Quicksilver, Slow Death,” examines the dangers of mercury and how easily its levels are increased. The author who took this challenge, Bruce, monitored his mercury blood levels for several weeks while eating a diet consisting heavily on fish. This means a lot of sushi, sashimi, tuna steaks, tuna salads, tuna sandwiches, ect.


Figure 2. A nice, wholesome tuna sandwich.

During the tuna feasting experiment, the author was surprised to find how easily tuna levels had doubled after just 24 hours of his meals. What is even more alarming is that as the experiment went on, mercury levels continued to increase rapidly at an exponential rate, far above the “safe” level of mercury in the blood. It seemed as though mercury is easily accumulated in the body fat, but is not easily cleared out of body via metabolizing factors or excrement.  This results in a chemical build up, which consequently changed Bruce’s normal personality and mood.

Relating to My Own Life

This chapter is  is a prime example of how awareness can help prevent getting sick.  The chapter starts by quoting an actress who went on a Mediterranean diet, which was built around eating tons of fish, including tuna. She started having fits of dizziness and fainting, and later she  realized it was linked to the high mercury content due to her diet.


Figure 3. Cans of tuna…yuck.

Firstly, I think that this brings up a good point of why diets that emphasize eating only one type of food is bad. A key to a healthy life is a balance of many types of foods, and a diet could lead to a build-up of something that can harm you. In this case, it was mercury. In fact, I have had a first-hand experience with this. During my internship over my summer, I had eaten tuna with cucumbers and crackers every single day for lunch for a quick meal between lab experiments. I would attribute my headaches and ill feelings to the humid and hot weather, but when I had gotten so bad that I was going back and forth to the doctor constantly for a recurring UTI (something that has never, ever hit me before). After taking Tox I class, I now know that metals in high concentrations can act as an immuno-repressant, leaving your body highly susceptible to foreign or “bad” bacteria invasions.

Solution & Conclusion

A point they bring up in this chapter is about bioaccumulation. Larger fish live longer and eat smaller fish that also contain mercury. Because of this, large fish accumulate a lot of mercy. Being on the top of the food chain, human beings consume this large fish and get the highest dosage of the deadly mercury. Especially in a society where bigger is always better, we need to be aware of the build-up of these harmful substances in our food or else it will immediately make a large impact on our health.

Because of the biomagnification of mercury in larger fish, the authors suggest to try to eat smaller fish as suppose to larger fish as a possible preventative action.


Figure 4. Infographic of a mercury cycle

Hope you enjoyed this! If you do not have time or are not interested in reading all of “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” below is a link to chapter summaries. Perhaps they will intrigue you to pick up the book or download the eReader version.

LINK: “Slow Death by Rubber Duck” Chapter summaries


Yo’ Momma’s a Fish

Today in Evolution lecture today, my professor (who happens to be a major advocate of the Academy of Natural Sciences YAY!) posted this picture at the beginning of today’s slideshow set. The artist is Ray Troll, who also did the illustrations for the changing exhibit I worked at the Academy entitled “Cruising the Fossil Freeway.”

The Tiktaalik is actually a fish with a neck (which is silly because fishes don’t have necks). In fact the fossils of this creature were found by the Academy’s Ted Daeschler and Neil Shubin, who wrote the book (and our required reading assignment) “Your Inner Fish.” Most importantly, this creature was one of the major transitional links from water to land organisms.

Our prof said that this crazy animal is where all land dwelling tetrapods, humans included, descended from, hence a mother of sorts.

It makes me think twice about telling “Yo mama’s so ____” jokes.

Thank goodness tomorrow is Friday 🙂

Live Fast & Die Young: Life of a Betta Fish

A little science behind betta fish before I get overly emotional.

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Vertebrata
  • Class: Actinoptergii
  • Order: Perciformes
  • Suborder: Anabantoidei
  • Family: Belontiidae
  • Genus: Betta
  • Species: Betta splendens

Bettas, also commonly known as Siamese Fighting Fish, come from tropical areas in Asia. They are known to be very hardy fish. It is said that bettas are able to survive in shallow waters, even puddles. As the puddle dries out, the betta jumps out and finds a new home (this is why its important to have a vented cover on your betta tanks).

Because bettas house something known as a “labyrinth” organ, they can actually obtain oxygen directly from the air by swimming to the top of a tank to the surface of the water. Bettas, however, like normal fish, push water past their gills, where a high surface area and amount of capillaries are found for gas exchange. The technique is called countercurrent exchange, where water flows in the opposite direction of blood flow in capillaries to maximize the amount of respiration that takes place.

In the wild, males typically fight until one declares dominance over a territory (but in a small tank, there is no escape and leads to death). In captivity for breeding purposes, usually males cannot be placed in a tank until the female has changed color, indicating she has released a hormone that signals the male she is ready to mate. Males then create a bubble nest to house and protect eggs until they hatch.

Shadow my love! On the evening of July 4th, 2011 you took your final air bubbles of breathe and we parted ways as you went to fishy heaven.

Biography of Shadow Alonzo, the ever Spunky Betta Fish:

I had originally gotten Shadow just a little bit over a year ago for my 20th birthday in April 2010. I was lonely in my dorm, and my parents brought him all the way up from New York. He was young and vibrant with many iridescent colors of purple, blue, silver, and maroon. Happily making bubble nests left and right as he sat upon the indirect sunlit windowsill at my Millennium Hall dorm.

Then, mommy got sick, my heart got broken, and I had to leave Shadow for a month in the care of my dear friends Naomi & Megan. When I returned and brought Shadow to our new home in North Hall, he was grumpy and lovable as ever in our sweltering hot, AC-less room.

In Caneris, he spent his days gazing out from Megan’s Ikea mesh bookshelf where I made a sign telling us if he was fed or not. He even survived the big move to our very first apartment in West Philly, and this is where his fishy tale ends.

Shadow, we had a lot of fights as I tried to coax you into a cup to change your tank water. Especially when I took away your belovedly guarded tree, Eywa (like in Avatar the James Cameron movie), to scrub all the poop off.

And you flared at me more than you ever did when I showed you other bettas and your own reflection. Others would say that you hated me or that you were simply stressed out. But I loved you so much, and I know you loved me, too. You were my first co-host when I did video blog posts back in the day.

You kept me company at night as I studied my life away. I talked to you whenever I had a new sewing project or was troubled about something. You protected my room while I was away, and I will miss your vitality and shiny scales and beautiful tail.

I’m so sad to see you go, and I know I promised you things like a new tank and pretty gravel. I wish I could have given you more before you went, like a better food variety or a heater. But I suppose you were too big of a fish in a small tank, you deserved a bigger place to roam.

(Shadow loves sarcasm :’) )

I’m glad you waited for me before you passed on. Thank you for waiting for me to come home first. When I saw you had lost appetite, I knew something was up as you are always eager for food. Then began the week of you floating vertically, I knew that your fish bladder had given way and your scales had lost heir luster. Today, I sat with you, talking to you as you crazily flitted side to side, hoping to calm you down. Finally, I said a prayer hoping to ease your pain, and you relaxed and sank besides your favorite tree. I knew you were at peace.

I know many of you may think this is a bit dramatic for a pet fish, but Shadow was and still is a very important part of my college life. It was especially devastating because we had just lost our last koi fish in our fish pond at home, which I will talk about next time. As for Shadow, he watched me as I grew the most rapidly, and he grew chubby and long and beautiful as the months passed by.

My most favorite photo of you my dear, taken by Megan.

Thank you for being in my life Shadow, I’ll miss you muchly ❤ Rest in peace ❤

Love Always,
Momma Christal

Sakura Sunday – A Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival

I’m so behind on my blogging! But it’s nice that I have a huge surplus of topics to write about lately.This past Sunday, my dear friend and former roomie (but now current apartment mate) Megan had volunteered at the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia as a Crafts Assistant.
It’s actually been running from March 4 to April 15. However two of their main events, the 5K Run and Sakura Sunday occurred on April 9-10. The event is hosted at the Horicultural Center, a 20-25 minute bus ride away from University City. Just $10 for entrance and your transportation fare.


Quite honestly when Megs asked me and John to arrive in the morning at the opening at 10:30 am, we were skeptical. What were we going to do for almost 6 hours in a small outdoor area?

The answer was a pleasant surprise.

First of all, just looking at all the different varieties of cherry blossoms took up a huge chuck of time & was ever so enjoyable. Some science behind the beautiful flower bearing trees:  The ones referred to as “sakura” trees are from the genus Prunus. According to the site there were over 10 different species of cherry blossoms there.

Besides gazing & photo taking fun, there were a ton of vendors selling Asian and Japanese merchandise or themed items. I came out with a slightly aching wallet, but a lot of loot. I’ve posted a few below, and the rest you will see in a month or so after a certain someone’s birthday  ;D

John got a plant and a practice sword we couldn’t stop playing with haha.

Also, there were many donation sites for Relief in Japan from the earthquakes. In one of charity booths, there was a really cool display of giant origami.

John was also able to participate in his very own origami as well. Meet Dilbert aka Dilly the crane.

Of course we went over to visit the crafting goddess, Megan. She was at the calligraphy table. Me and John tried our hand at the ancient art of brush strokes.

John’s says Samurai, Hope, & Japan I think. My paper says Samurai & Ninja. Hopefully our blotchy characters don’t translate to something offensive.

My favorite craft of all was the fish paper kites we got do. Hosted by the Philadelphia Art Museum, their booth was a huge hit. I waited like a creep til the last minute to do a fishy because A) I was slightly embarassed and more importantly B) I wanted as many kids to make theirs before supplies ran out. Lucky for the three of us, there were plenty of templates left!

Meet my darling Tuna Can, who I revamped after the Sakura Sunday to look like an Olympics mascot (by accident). And here is Megan’s swirly Miss Salmon! Finally, John & Bob, the flower-filled eye hole fish!

There were also a lot of events I couldn’t take photos of because I was too short and it was crowded: like drums & dance presentations, martial art expositions, a Harujuku inspired fashion show I sadly missed. I was able to see some cosplayers and  a few really well dressed sweet lolitas, however. I sadly didn’t catch my favorite group on  film because I didn’t want to disturb their lunch time XD

But the main event was one from home!

Megan’s homemade bentos! Not only did this girl go and give her time to volunteer on a Sunday morning, but she woke up at 6am to cook these up.

Absolutely delicious, made from love, and tots free! I’ll let the beautiful pics do the talking! Fruits, veggies, onigiri, shrimp, egg and sweet egg (tamago) and dinosaur shaped chicken and a rabbit shaped apple!

A wonderful display that was great to consume & look at. Love this girl.

So all in all, a superb Sakura Sunday!