Another Thing No One Could Have Predicted

I’m shocked:

Two years after the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, touching off the worst offshore spill in U.S. history, research into the disaster’s environmental effects is turning up ailing fish that bear hallmarks of diseases tied to petroleum and other pollutants.

Those illnesses don’t pose an increased health threat to humans, scientists say, but the problems could be devastating to prized species such as grouper and red snapper, and to the people who make their living catching them.


“Bile tells you what a fish’s last meal was,” said Steve Murawski, a marine biologist with the University of South Florida who was chief science adviser for the National Marine Fisheries Service until November 2010 when he began working on oil spill studies for USF. “There was as late as August of last year an oil source out there that some of those animals were consuming.”

Bile in red snapper, yellow-edge grouper and a few other species contained on average 125 parts per million of naphthalene, a compound found in crude oil, Murawski said. Scientists expect to find almost none of the toxin in fish captured in the open ocean.

And it wasn’t just the oil spill, it was the “clean-up”:

“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.”

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan’s findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants.

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.


“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”.

Clearly we are victims of over-regulation. DRILL BABY DRILL!

61 replies
  1. 1
    cathyx says:

    It’s a big failed experiment that we will pay for for the rest of time.

  2. 2
    Bludger says:

    Clearly, nothing will go wrong with Keystone XL.

  3. 3
    Raven says:

    Stupid ass fucking regs down there won’t let you keep snapper except for about 40 days any goddam-way.

  4. 4
    Unabogie says:

    Clearly we are victims of over-regulation. DRILL BABY DRILL!

    This is the part that gets me. Half the country honestly thinks that oil companies are operating under the thuggish boot of the feds. I saw another article today about man-made earthquakes (was it here? Whatever) caused by fracking.

    I don’t want to strangle business. I just want some goddamn protections so businesses can’t make a profit off of poisoning me or causing my death. Is that so fucking much to ask?

  5. 5
    cathyx says:

    Are oozing sores tasty? Think of them as flavor enhancers.

  6. 6
    donnah says:

    I read the Al Jazeera article. It’s horrifying. The oil spill and subsequent attempts to clean it up have doomed the ocean wildlife we’ve taken for granted. Deformed shrimp, fish, and crabs are emerging in great numbers. It’s just a nightmare.

  7. 7

    Jesus, this was my own worst fear come true from that nightmare a few years ago. Stupid humans.

  8. 8
    Unabogie says:

    Here you go.

    The average number of earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater in the U.S. midcontinent – an area that includes Arkansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas – increased to six times the 20th century average last year, scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey said in an abstract of their research.

    Just peachy.

  9. 9
    Punchy says:

    But those are just the opinions of the liberal bookworms. What does BP think? Both sides need to be considered, of course.


  10. 10
    trollhattan says:

    Repeating myself from an earlier open thread, but hiding behind the “proprietary” wall is a huge area of crossover between Macando and fracking fluids. These folks don’t seem to have lost a step–their biggest current headache is natural gas is too darn cheap.

    Also, too, I’ve been told several times by “experts” that if I’ve ever used household detergents I’ve used what’s in the dispersant and [pat-pat} move along, sonnyboy.

  11. 11
    Martin says:

    Stupid scientists. Clearly God is once again punishing the gulf coast for all of New Orleans gayness. Oil is perfectly natural – a gift from the Creator. And fish oil is supposed to be good for you anyway, so what the fuck is everyone complaining about?

  12. 12
    Quicksand says:

    Was anybody testing the bile for naphthalene or looking for eyeless crabs before the spill? I don’t think so.

    Everything is perfectly normal, nothing to see, move along.

  13. 13

    A lot of us are not surprised. I expected this. But damn I would have liked to have been wrong.

  14. 14
    Rick Taylor says:

    Of course this is all the fault of environmentalists. If only they’d allowed drilling in Anwr this never would have happened. Or to quote Sarah Palin,

    “Xtreme Greenies: see now why we push ‘drill,baby,drill’ of known reserves & promising finds in safe onshore places like ANWR? Now do you get it?”

  15. 15
    Veritas says:

    Check out Romney’s new campaign site:

    Just the opening salvo of the Spring Offensive…with Obambi barely ahead, it won’t be long until it is getting into June and July, with Romney starting to build a lead in the polls…

  16. 16
    JPL says:

    @trollhattan: Another example of free enterprise to keep the peons ignorant. What we don’t know won’t hurt us or something like that.

  17. 17
    Bago says:

    I don’t see what you did there…

  18. 18
    Jay B. says:

    Thank God Obama, the EPA and the American public stood solidly behind the cessation of off-shore drilling so nothing like this can happen again.

    Here’s the thing — the Administration and the EPA let BP get away with it, including the absolute lie about “dispersants”, which were predicted to cause things like what we are seeing.

  19. 19
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    I am soo tired of hoocoodanode.

  20. 20
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    None of the shrimp I’ve eaten have ever had eyes. What’s the big fucking deal?

  21. 21
    PeakVT says:

    @Rick Taylor: Wait, she wanted to trade all new offshore drilling for ANWR? I’d take that offer if it, you know, actually existed.

  22. 22
    tofudog says:

    What I am curious about is why are we getting this information and detailed reporting from Al Jazeera? Are there no American media outlets interested in following up on the spill?

  23. 23
    arguingwithsignposts says:


    Are there no American media outlets interested in following up on the spill?

    The first link is an AP report.

  24. 24
    JPL says:

    @tofudog: They are to busy following around Hillary Rosen.

  25. 25
    Jay B. says:

    Here’s a funny article. This one too.

    But if only we knew at the time that mistakes were made! If only somehow there were organizations who called attention to this. Who, indeed, could have predicted?

    I’m sure the Administration’s support (along with the entire Republican party and most Americans) of fracking will prove differently!

  26. 26
    tulip says:

    This is just so depressing. I’ll be okay but I think about my nephews and the coming nightmare they are going to face.

    This is just devastating. Does anybody on the right acknowledge that killing the ocean is not a good thing? Anyone on the right?

  27. 27
    Calouste says:


    Obama isn’t working? From a guy who hasn’t had a job in 5 years?

    One of Romney’s close advisors must be a plant from the late night talk show joke writers union. It must be.

  28. 28
    Citizen_X says:

    @tofudog: They’re too librul, duh. Only Al-Jazeera terror news is interested.

  29. 29
    jeff says:

    What rankles as much as this story is the lack of anything whatsoever from domestic news sources. I have just this last week moved from New York to the Gulf (where I grew up) and I find the lack of curiosity I’ve so far encountered incredible. I’m right in the spill zone, but inshore there are no reports of the kinds of deformities mentioned in the articles. I have no idea what’s going on offshore, though. The very worst of the spill was a bit west over Louisiana, and I believe that’s where the crustaceans mentioned came from. I’ve got my ear close to what’s going on and I’ll certainly say something around here if I learn anything.


  30. 30
    Bubblegum Tate says:

    Oh, so you’re going to listen to terrorist mouthpiece Al Jazeera?!?


  31. 31
    David Koch says:

    invisible hand, bitches

  32. 32
    tommyspoon says:

    And this is another reason why the aliens are not stopping by for a visit. Or why we can’t have nice things (like a visit from benevolent aliens).

  33. 33
    Citizen_X says:

    Maybe a giant mutant crab will rise from the sea and attack downtown Houston.

    There would be some justice in that, yes, but not enough. I will be out there laying out crab chow shaped into big green flowers, in a line that leads onto I-10, all the way out to Katy.

    Where Big Proble…er, BP’s campus is. With a big green flower on it.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    The desperation of the Rombot and his loathesome followers brings great joy to my heart.

    Suffer, maggots. Suffer.

  35. 35
    Hill Dweller says:

    Willard held his rally at a factory that closed during Dubya’s term, but blamed it on Obama. Those half-wits can’t even competently scout locations.

  36. 36
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    Stupid ass fucking regs down there won’t let you keep snapper except for about 40 days any goddam-way.

    and why are those “stupid ass regs” there? Could it possibly have anything to do with past overfishing?

  37. 37
    JPL says:

    @Hill Dweller: What’s more important is how did the news report it? Did they conveniently forget to mention that the plant closed under the Bush Administration? Enquiring minds want to know.

  38. 38
    Silver says:


    Exactly. Self-saucing fish.

    We should thank BP, Transocean, and Haliburton for that culinary innovation.

  39. 39
    Raven says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass: You need to investigate how they determine when and how the limits are instituted. I have no problem with evidence based limits but that is not what has been going on for quite some time.

  40. 40
    Citizen_X says:

    touching off the worst offshore spill in U.S. history

    Um, it was the worst accidental oil spill in world history, offshore or onshore.

    Note that the only modifier in there is “accidental.” That’s because it’s only beaten by Saddam blowing up all the Kuwaiti wells.

  41. 41
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Rick Taylor: Sarah, does the name Exxon Valdez ring a bell?

  42. 42

    And I’m still having arguments with the fish guy at Whole Foods over Gulf Shrimp but I ask you this: why would anyone eat this orange gook that shows up in Gulf shrimp? Not me. And stop telling me that’s eggs, that is not biologically correct.

  43. 43
    PurpleGirl says:

    @tofudog: Bite your tongue… if the MSM even thought to do this kind of reporting their corporate masters would fire them before they could even try to form the questions. And the young ones know that; the older ones are too heavily invested in corporations to see the problems.

  44. 44
    Raven says:

    @The prophet Nostradumbass: Actually there is some decent news in this regard,

    “This plan marks a major milestone in the decades-long effort to prevent overfishing, by protecting species before they plummet to critically low levels. For the first time, managers have set science-based catch limits that will allow them to take quick action when fish populations start to decline. This proactive approach can help avoid a crisis and lessen the need for severe fishing restrictions when species are depleted.”

  45. 45
  46. 46
    JPL says:

    @efgoldman: And the point is? It’s typical Rove, try to paint the other person as the one who closed plants. Remember the President is a Harvard elitist. The question is how long will the media let him get away with his bull.

  47. 47
    Raven says:

    @JPL: Till the 12th of never?

  48. 48
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Hill Dweller: They’d blame the closing on President Obama anyway. (Of course, maybe it was a company owned by Bain; maybe Mitt is the one who closed it.)

  49. 49
    lacp says:

    Good aggregation of related articles:

  50. 50
    lacp says:

    @Veritas: Spring Offensive? Willard’s joined the Taliban?

  51. 51
    trollhattan says:


    Willard wouldn’t pass the quals. Pity, really, for us all.

  52. 52
    Steeplejack says:


    I will be out there laying out crab chow shaped into big green flowers [. . .].

    Crab Chow: great band name!

  53. 53
    chrome agnomen says:


    here’s the ‘funny’ thing. if that comment appeared on a right wing blog, thousands would nod their heads in approval.

  54. 54
    The prophet Nostradumbass says:

    Notice how Veritas only posts his crap in threads where it’s off-topid?

  55. 55
    PeakVT says:

    @Citizen_X: The Lakeview Gusher was significantly larger, though it probably had less impact than a lot of oceanic spills.

  56. 56
    OzoneR says:

    @Jay B.:

    Thank God Obama, the EPA and the American public stood solidly behind the cessation of off-shore drilling so nothing like this can happen again.

    I see you forgot the moratorium Obama put in place that sent the Gulf Coast into a frenzy.

  57. 57
    Citizen_X says:

    @PeakVT: Huh, whaddaya know. I was going by my memory of this list, which didn’t have Lakeview listed before but now, obviously, does.

    The Gulf War spills were orders of magnitude larger than both, though.

  58. 58
    Jebediah says:

    Mitt Mondale, wingtard. Mitt Mondale.

  59. 59
    WhyKnot241 says:

    But, but, according to our liberal media…it’s all good. Don’t worry, be happy!

  60. 60
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @jeff: At a guess you’re not hearing anything locally around the Gulf area about this because the Al Jazeera story is cherry-picked data to make a big front-page splash and nearly all of the Gulf’s fishing production is clean and trouble-free. Maybe.

    It’s a press report, not a peer-reviewed study. Finding out six months after you started panicking that it was ginned up to sell eyeball-tracks for advertisers leads to buyer’s remorse (see Curveball for a trillion-dollar example).

  61. 61
    Interrobang says:

    @Citizen_X: You win a truckload of Internets, Citizen.

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