Blinky, the three-eyed fish from the animated television sitcom The Simpsons, may be headed for the San Francisco Bay and its estuaries, according SF Weekly's reading of new research from the University of California at Davis. Wholesale dumping of toxic chemicals into waterways -- such as the gunk disgorged in Springfield ponds by nuclear power plant owner Monty Burns -- has led to a new type of San Francisco Bay zombie fish, with a shrunken brain and misshapen body, according to a study in the Nov. 24 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The toxic mix of pesticides, industrial chemicals and flame retardants Bay Area residents have long wantonly dumped into the bay and delta is passed from mother bass to fingerlings during gestation, scientists reported. As a result, the weeuns have undeveloped brains, are sluggish, runtish, and have livers that don't work right, the report said.
In the Nov., 1990 Simpsons episode "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish," Bart and Lisa Simpson catch a three-eyed fish downstream from Mr. Burns' plant. The press nicknames the fish "Blinky," and a state investigation reveals numerous violations by Burns. Given the scant time the episode devotes to explaining the science behind this multiple-eye deformation, it's unclear whether it could be caused by contaminants found in the San Francisco Bay.
Notwithstanding, SF Bay-borne chemicals such as polybrominated diphenyl ethers, polychlorinated biphenyls, and the pesticides chlorpyrifos and dieldren, are known to cause skeletal, hormonal, and organ deformities in young and adult organisms. When the effects are combined, these effects can increase by several orders of magnitude, according to U.C. Davis researcher David Ostrach.