Toxic Legacy of BP’s Gulf of Mexico blowout continues.

B. McPherson
Think BP has cleaned up the mess? Think again.
It has been nearly four years since a series of incidents led to the spilling of at least 206 million gallons of oil and methane into the Gulf of Mexico. The Deepwater Horizon was the drill platform which burst into flames in April 2010 taking 11 workers to their deaths. The petroleum spewing from the blown out hole killed unknown numbers of wildlife from whales to microscopic plankton. Many clean-up workers fell ill and many businesses went broke when the fishery was closed and beaches were closed.

Much of the evidence of the catastrophe has disappeared, but the damage keeps on giving.

A paper presented by the National Academy of Science deals with some of the damage caused by the sudden, massive release of hydrocarbons into the water.

Scientists exposed tuna embryos to the water contaminated by the BP blowout in the Gulf. They found that many of the fish displayed various heart abnormalities which would likely affect their ability to swim.
Following is an exerpt from Mashable:
Scientists who studied the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 learned that young fish, including embryos, are particularly vulnerable to oil exposure. "That spill taught us to pay close attention to the formation and function of the heart," said Nat Scholz, ecotoxicology program manager for NOAA's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.
Tuna are made for swimming and swimming fast. They can reach speeds of 40mph while chasing prey. Their reduced fitness to swim with their schools will likely increase their mortality rates.

Representatives of BP have dismissed the findings as not proving a cause and effect. The study was conducted by a team of blue ribbon universities and NOAA scientists. Stanford U, U of Miami and U of Sunshine Coast Queensland participated.

While the yellowfin tuna is not currently on the critically endangered list, it is the most popular tuna caught for canning. It is also sold fresh in chunks and for sashimi. Due to constant fishing pressure it teeters on the edge of decline. Bluefin tuna are critically endangered. Fishing pressure for bluefins is relentless as whopping prices are brought in the sushi markets.

Tuna are top predators. If they decline or disappear, the health of the ecosystem declines as well.

Further reading:

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