February Science Cafe: Marine Toxins

  • The Swansea Science Café offers opportunities for anyone to find out more about new, exciting and topical areas of science. Designed to be informal and entertaining, the café typically runs on the last Wednesday of every month at the Dylan Thomas Centre. Entry is free and talks start at 7:30 pm.


    Poisons from the sea – or when to avoid the fish course!

    Jim Ballantine, organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry

    Wednesday 23rd February at 7:30 pm


    Jim Ballantine is an analytical organic chemist who taught chemistry for 40 years at Swansea University.  During that time he became interested in marine organisms and was for a time Director of the Institute of Marine Studies at Swansea.

    His talk will provide a series of light-hearted case histories of selected marine toxins, which are some of the most poisonous materials known to mankind.  It will discuss their occurrence, the way in which these materials impinge on the folk-lore, local customs and dietary habits, and a little about their chemistry and mode of action, where this is known.

    The topics included for discussion will be selected from the following:

    1.         Puffer fish poisoning and how to choose a restaurant in Japan;

    2.         How to produce a zombie in Haiti;

    3.         What is Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning and where in the world you can catch it,

    4.         What is ciguatera, and how to avoid getting it when visiting the Polynesian islands;

    5.         How chemistry helped Polynesian islanders to make themselves invincible in battle;

    6.         Why no-one swims near Cairns in Queensland, Australia from September to March.

    1. Why not to pick up pretty snail shells near the Red Sea.
    2. How a green worm uses chemistry to control the sex of its children  -after their birth!;