September 18, 2006

Omigod! Now We're Using Piscine Shields!

Somebody has come up with a way to use tanks full of bluegills as the equivalent of mine-canaries to detect chemical attack on metropolitan water supplies:

Big cities employ a range of safeguards against chemical and biological agents, constantly monitoring, testing and treating the water. But electronic protection systems can trace only the toxins they are programmed to detect, Lawler said.

Bluegills — a hardy species about the size of a human hand — are considered more versatile. They are highly attuned to chemical disturbances in their environment, and when exposed to toxins, they experience the fish version of coughing, flexing their gills to expel unwanted particles.

The computerized system in use in San Francisco and elsewhere is designed to detect even slight changes in the bluegills' vital signs and send an e-mail alert when something is wrong.

San Francisco's bluegills went to work about a month ago, guarding the drinking water of more than 1 million people from substances such as cyanide, diesel fuel, mercury and pesticides. Eight bluegills swim in a tank deep in the basement of a water treatment plant south of the city.

"It gave us the best of both worlds, which is basically all the benefits that come from nature and the best of high-tech," said Susan Leal, general manager of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

Surely PETA is going to put the kybosh on this.

UPDATE: Through the magic of this here Innernet, I managed to find a pic of the Board of Directors of Intelligent Automation Corporation, the outfit that came up with the fishy GWOT weapon:


Posted by Robert at September 18, 2006 02:30 PM | TrackBack

Wait a minute! Is'nt that Chip there in the middle?

Posted by: Basil Seal at September 18, 2006 03:48 PM

Still flush with his mention on NRO this morning, apparently.

Posted by: Robbo the LB at September 18, 2006 04:30 PM

No wait. Where did you get that picture of Phin?

Posted by: agent bedhead at September 18, 2006 04:37 PM

Yawn . . . I blogged about this . . . what, three weeks ago?

Posted by: The Colossus at September 18, 2006 05:48 PM

Fishy fishy fishy-oh.

Posted by: Gordon at September 18, 2006 06:14 PM

Wherefore art thou, fishy??

Posted by: Captain Ned at September 18, 2006 06:34 PM