Here’s some evidence of just how badly we’re fucking up the planet. Tributyltin, a chemical that was used in painting ship hulls before it was banned internationally in 2008, has been making female snails grown penises and vas deferens — the tubes that carry sperm — for decades. In some cases, the growths were large enough to stop females from releasing eggs, effectively decimating populations.
The good news is that since the ban, cases of imposex — the condition in which female snails grow male sexual organs — have become less common. “To a large extent we are seeing good recovery,” Dr. Peter Matthiessen, an ecotoxicologist, told Australia’s ABC. “In areas where the populations were wiped out we are now beginning to see slow recovery since the complete ban kicked in in 2008.
“It shows ecosystems have amazing abilities to recover from toxic insults. It is quite optimistic really,” he added.