Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Seafood Deformities Suggest Impact of BP Oil Spill Worse than Imagined

Seafood Deformities Suggest Impact of BP Oil Spill Worse than Imagined

EcoWatch

A new investigation by Al-Jazeera is confirming the worst about the residual impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill. According to the network, scientists and fisherman are stunned by their recurring findings: "horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp" along with "shrimp with abnormal growths, female shrimp with their babies still attached to them, and shrimp with oiled gills." Unfortunately, this list is anything but comprehensive.

The findings portend an ominous future for a region that has already suffered monumental economic and environmental catastrophe. Despite BP's ongoing public relations blitz that paints a picture of white sand, sparkling water and abundant (untainted) seafood, the oil giant may find itself in hotter water, even as it tries to quickly settle damages and wash its hands of the whole affair.

For now, what is known is that BP released at least 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf following the explosion, then covered the visible slicks with at least 1.9 million gallons of Corexit oil dispersant—a toxin known to be mutagenic—to sink the oil. While "perception is reality" may be the mantra in the worlds of advertising and public relations—and the perception certainly seemed to show clean water from the surface after a hurried clean-up effort—the reality is a seafloor covered in oil.

"This is Macondo oil on the bottom. These are dead organisms because of oil being deposited on their heads," said Samantha Joye, a marine scientist with the University of Georgia at the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Washington.

Meanwhile, BP and federal agencies have very few answers, and the answers they do have are as grounded in reality as Alice was after eating her mushroom in Wonderland.

According to Al-Jazeera, the agencies in charge of this matter—the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—"insisted Al-Jazeera talk with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)." Unfortunately, NOAA wouldn't comment because of its involvement with the BP lawsuit and BP, in lieu of a televised interview, sent a statement reading: "Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is among the most tested in the world, and, according to the FDA and NOAA, it is as safe now as it was before the accident."

Recent scientific research led by East Carolina University confirmed that oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion successfully found its way into zooplankton—small organisms that serve as the foundation of the Gulf food chain. Zooplankton work their way up through shrimp, small fish, and ultimately, larger species such as dolphins and sharks.

Al Jazeera spoke with Ed Cake, a biological oceanographer, about his concern for the Gulf. "It has been more than 33 years since the 1979 Ixtoc-1 oil disaster in Mexico's Bay of Campeche, and the oysters, clams and mangrove forests have still not recovered in their oiled habitats in seaside estuaries of the Yucatan Peninsula," he said. "It has been 23 years since the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster in Alaska, and the herring fishery that failed in the wake of that disaster has still not returned."

"I will not be alive to see the Gulf of Mexico recover," added Cake, who is 72 years old. "Without funding and serious commitment, these things will not come back to pre-April 2010 levels for decades."

With restaurants and supermarkets becoming less viable options during the pandemic, there has been a growth in demand and supply of local food. Baker County Tourism Travel Baker County / Flickr

By Robin Scher

Beyond the questions surrounding the availability, effectiveness and safety of a vaccine, the COVID-19 pandemic has led us to question where our food is coming from and whether we will have enough.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Tearing through the crowded streets of Philadelphia, an electric car and a gas-powered car sought to win a heated race. One that mimicked how cars are actually used. The cars had to stop at stoplights, wait for pedestrians to cross the street, and swerve in and out of the hundreds of horse-drawn buggies. That's right, horse-drawn buggies. Because this race took place in 1908. It wanted to settle once and for all which car was the superior urban vehicle. Although the gas-powered car was more powerful, the electric car was more versatile. As the cars passed over the finish line, the defeat was stunning. The 1908 Studebaker electric car won by 10 minutes. If in 1908, the electric car was clearly the better form of transportation, why don't we drive them now? Today, I'm going to answer that question by diving into the history of electric cars and what I discovered may surprise you.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A technician inspects a bitcoin mining operation at Bitfarms in Saint Hyacinthe, Quebec on March 19, 2018. LARS HAGBERG / AFP via Getty Images

As bitcoin's fortunes and prominence rise, so do concerns about its environmental impact.

Read More Show Less
OR-93 traveled hundreds of miles from Oregon to California. Austin Smith Jr. / Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs / California Department of Fish and Wildlife

An Oregon-born wolf named OR-93 has sparked conservation hopes with a historic journey into California.

Read More Show Less
A plume of exhaust extends from the Mitchell Power Station, a coal-fired power plant built along the Monongahela River, 20 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, on Sept. 24, 2013 in New Eagle, Pennsylvania. The plant, owned by FirstEnergy, was retired the following month. Jeff Swensen / Getty Images

By David Drake and Jeffrey York

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The Big Idea

People often point to plunging natural gas prices as the reason U.S. coal-fired power plants have been shutting down at a faster pace in recent years. However, new research shows two other forces had a much larger effect: federal regulation and a well-funded activist campaign that launched in 2011 with the goal of ending coal power.

Read More Show Less