BP Spill Causing 'Alarming' Marine-Life Deformities in Gulf

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Common Dreams

BP Spill Causing 'Alarming' Marine-Life Deformities in Gulf

Eyeless shrimp and other mutations due to BP chemicals

by
Common Dreams staff

Mutated shrimp (Photo: Keath Ladner)

Scientists studying the Gulf of Mexico are reporting alarming rates of deformities in marine-life, including 'horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, and eyeless crabs and shrimp'. Findings show that the grotesque mutations are a direct result of chemicals released from the BP oil spill in 2010.

Collapsing fisheries and deteriorating ecosystems in the Gulf, such as steadily depleting coral life, have also raised concerns.

"The fishermen have never seen anything like this," Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. "And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I've never seen anything like this either."

"Given that the Gulf of Mexico provides more than 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US, this phenomenon does not bode well for the region, or the country," writes Dahr Jamail for Al-Jazeera.

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Al-Jazeera: Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists

Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP's 2010 oil disaster.

Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp - and interviewees' fingers point towards BP's oil pollution disaster as being the cause. [...]

On April 20, 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded, and began the release of at least 4.9 million barrels of oil. BP then used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants to sink the oil. [...]

Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from Port Sulfur, Louisiana, told Al Jazeera she is finding crabs "with holes in their shells, shells with all the points burned off so all the spikes on their shells and claws are gone, misshapen shells, and crabs that are dying from within … they are still alive, but you open them up and they smell like they've been dead for a week". [...]

Rooks is also finding eyeless shrimp, shrimp with abnormal growths, female shrimp with their babies still attached to them, and shrimp with oiled gills.

"We also seeing eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye-sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills, and others with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills." [...]

"The dispersants used in BP's draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber," Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor told Al Jazeera. "It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known". [...]

Cowan believes chemicals named polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), released from BP's submerged oil, are likely to blame for what he is finding, due to the fact that the fish with lesions he is finding are from "a wide spatial 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".

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