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A new report on the BP oil spill aftermath find disturbing numbers of "Eyeless shrimp and fish with lesions are becoming common, with BP oil pollution believed to be the likely cause." Fishermen and scientists alike say they've never seen anything like it.
Recently I shared a report on the Gulf Coast fishing industry written by Dahr Jamail, a reporter for Al Jazeera who has been covering the BP Gulf oil spill since early on in the days of the disaster. Once again, Jamail - the journalist from Qatar - reports on these latest findings. You can check out the American mainstream media and read all about President Obama eating dog meat as a child when his step-father fed it to him in Indonesia, and other really important stuff.
And so it seems that not all of the creatures of the sea have been killed off by the effects of the oil spill, and BP's use of toxic dispersants. There are fish with sores and lesions, mutated shrimp, deformed crab and fish, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp (Shrimp lacking even eye sockets), crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don't have their usual spikes, shrimp with tumors on their heads, crabs that are dying from within (Alive, but when opened smell as if they are already dead.), and more.
Why is this happening? From the report:
"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".
The dispersants are known to be mutagenic, a disturbing fact that could be evidenced in the seafood deformities. Shrimp, for example, have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP's disaster began, giving the chemicals time to enter the genome.
Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts can include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. They are also teratogenic - able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus - and carcinogenic.
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".
Jamail attempted to get answers to questions arising from his investigation from various government agencies, as well as BP. One agency referred him to another, some couldn't or wouldn't talk, and while BP refused to comment for a televised interview, they did offer a statement:
"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."
Right. Somehow, I don't think anyone will run in to any of the executives from BP at any of the Gulf Coast eateries enjoying the seafood cuisine anytime soon.