Are Italy’s Eels Getting High on Secondhand Cocaine?

by Owen James Burke


Photo via Hexapolis.

As scientists home in on microscopic pollutants damaging our waterways and wildlife, plastics have been at the forefront of the discussion. But a river running through Sarno, Italy (which just happens to be where my family comes from), is reportedly carrying about 15 grams of cocaine daily (valued at anywhere from about $600 to $1800 US worth, depending on who you know).

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Screenshot from The Verge’s video, “Italy’s eels have a coke problem”.

While I’m well aware of my family’s proclivity for festivities, I point my finger upstream–Pompei, Scafati: you got some ‘splainin’ to do.

In all seriousness, the real question is, amidst the already highly polluted waters, is the devil’s dander harming the resident eels? Is it influencing subsea criminal activity? Are eels indulging in utterly inane conversations into the wee hours of the morning?

Lastly, if there’s this much cocaine sifting through the waterways of Italy, how are fish in Bolivia holding up?

The research, published in The Journal of Fish Diseases, concluded that the eels not only became erratic after being fed 20 nanograms of the stuff, but lost some of their gel coat, which helps keep diseases and infections at bay, and put a hamper on their intestinal function. Not exactly what you’d call a fun night out for these little guys. -OJB

Watch The Verge‘s short documentary on the story:

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