Gulf Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo: Dr. Samantha Joye/ oilspill.uga.edu/Sea Grant Georgia)
2010 oil spill still wreaking havoc on Gulf ecosystem
Friday, April 27, 2012, 02:20 (GMT + 9)
Fishers and scientists have been finding deformed and ill marine life since November 2010 – just seven months after the catastrophic BP oil spill in the Mexican Gulf and the release of dispersants. After the oil rig explosion on 20 April 2010, BP used at least 1.9 million gal of toxic dispersants, which are known to be mutagenic, to sink the oil.
The findings of Dr Jim Cowan with Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences replicate those of others along the Gulf Coast.
|Brown oily foam washing ashore in Bayou La Batre. (Photos: Louisiana Environmental Action Network )
Fishers, scientists and seafood processors say they continue to find high numbers of eyeless crabs and shrimp, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws and fish with oozing sores they believe are to blame on the dispersants, Global Research reports.
“The dispersants used in BP’s draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease and rubber,” said Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor, Al Jazeera reports.
As shrimp and other species have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP’s disaster began, the chemicals have been able to enter the genome and cause deformities. Dispersants are also teratogenic – they can disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus – and carcinogenic.
|Collecting samples at Gulf. (Photos:Dr. Samantha Joye/oilspill.uga.edu)
Cowan believes chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), released from BP’s submerged oil, are likely to blame for the sick wildlife.
The fish are from “a wide distribution that is spatially coordinated with oil from the Deepwater Horizon, both surface oil and subsurface oil. A lot of the oil that impacted Louisiana was also in subsurface plumes, and we think there is a lot of it remaining on the seafloor,” he explained.
Marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia made submarine dives around the source area of BP’s oil disaster. She found colossal blankets of oil coating the seafloor and oil-covered bottom-dwelling sea creatures.
Dr Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, has found “significant levels of oil pollution in oysters and crabs along the Louisiana coastline.”
“We have also found high levels of hydrocarbons in the soil and vegetation,” she said.
Crustacean biologist Darryl Felder, in the Department of Biology with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, has been monitoring the vicinity of BP’s blowout Macondo well since before the oil disaster began.
“So we have before and after samples to compare to,” he said. “We have found seafood with lesions, missing appendages, and other abnormalities.”
Dr Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor of biology at Louisiana State University, co-authored the report Genomic and physiological footprint of the oil spill on resident marsh fishes published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October 2011. He predicts that there could be reproductive impacts on fish.
“What this shows is a very direct link from exposure to DWH oil and a clear biological effect that could translate to population level long-term consequences,” he warned.
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By Natalia Real