Fishermen and scientists operating in the northern Gulf of Mexico are noting huge numbers of deformed sea creatures, including eyeless shrimp, clawless crabs and fish damaged by lesions, along with high rates of dolphin stranding in the Gulf near the area of the BP Oil spill of 2010. Fishing industry workers are also observing declining numbers of key species two years after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and the release of some 4.9 million barrels of oil followed by the application of hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemical dispersant.
Disturbing images in the video report below from Al Jazeera English show the deformed sea creatures and scientists’ concern for damage to species health, biodiversity and the food chain:
Dolphin Strandings Skyrocket, Ill Health Observed
Comprehensive physicals of 32 live dolphins from the northern Gulf of Mexico area, Bataria Bay, showed that many of the dolphins examined are “underweight, anemic, have low blood sugar and/or some symptoms of liver and lung disease. Nearly half also have abnormally low levels of the hormones that help with stress response, metabolism and immune function.” In addition, NOAA has declared and unusual mortality event (UME) because more than 675 dolphins have stranded themselves in the norther Gulf area, up from an average of 74 strandings per year.
NOAA reports, “NOAA and its state and federal partners are researching multiple ways Gulf dolphins may have been exposed to oil, including through ingestion, inhalation or externally. Dolphins could have routinely ingested oil from sediments or water while feeding or by eating whole fish, including internal organs and fluids such as liver and bile, which can harbor chemical contaminants.”
Earlier this year the FDA assured us that Gulf seafood was safe to eat. However, there are other concerns beyond simple immediate human consumption needs. The number, health, and population numbers of the species affects the food chain and ultimately the balance of the entire ecosystem.
Besides the known toxicity of oil, the dispersant Corexit is also suspected to harm life when used in vast amounts. One year after the spill, scientists found that Corexit, which was supposed to degrade soon after application, was still present in the water three months after application. Some 771,000 gallons of the dispersant Corexit were used to break down the oil into smaller droplets.
The news comes as BP announced that is has finalized a $7.8 billion settlement agreement with some 100,000 plaintiff individuals and businesses from the Gulf area harmed by the oil spill and its aftermath. It is one of the largest class action settlements in U.S. history. One thing we can be sure of: no amount of dollars will help the the shrimp, dolphins and other species that are suffering the dire consequences of the disaster two years on.
Image of eyeless shrimp. Still from Al Jazeera video via YouTube (embedded above)