Watch Out, Shellfish Lovers: Vibrio Is Poisoning Your Oysters

Earth's fish are going extinct, y'all; unfortunately, this isn't actually news.

New research from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, however, suggests that the shellfish that do survive may all end up being poisonous to humans anyway, because as the water they live in gets warmer, it becomes more hospitable for a bacteria called Vibrio.

Vibrio is no joke, either: It actually causes several potentially lethal illnesses, according to Grub Street, such as cholera.

“We were able to show a doubling, tripling -- in some cases quadrupling -- of the Vibrio over that 50-year period,” Rita Colwell told National Geographic. “This would represent a direct impact on human health that I think is kind of surprising.”

Colwell; who is one of the study’s lead authors, a microbiologist with positions at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University, and former director of the National Science Foundation; added: “The beauty of this study is that it provides us with ground truth that this correlation exists.”

Grub Street also reports the CDC as saying that in 2014, 27-percent of people infected with vibrio eventually had to be hospitalized, with four-percent of those people dying -- and that’s a figure that the agency has reason to believe is actually an underestimate.

Biological oceanographer and chief scientific officer at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Andrew Pershing, adds that Colwell and her collaborators’ study demonstrates just how man-made climate change is actually altering the seas.

“It is really rare in the ocean, even more than on land, to have these long-term records,” he said to National Geographic. “The pattern they described [looks] like the same story we are seeing in species after species. In the North Atlantic, we are seeing a northern march of whole ecosystems toward the poles as the planet warms: predators, prey, and in the case of Vibrio, the parasites as well, moving with their hosts up the globe.”

So, bad news all around, shellfish-lovers. The catch-22 appears to be that not only are fast-rising temperatures forcing cod, lobster, and other fish to relocate north, but the fish that remain probably pose a risk to your health.