Friday, June 1, 2012

Eyeless Shrimp, Mutant Fish, Clawless Crabs: Courtesy of the BP Oil Spill

These eyeless shrimp even lack eye sockets. Photo courtesy: Youtube/screen capture

Last September, a fisherman pulled nearly 400 pounds of mutated, eyeless shrimp out of the Gulf of Mexico. That was shocking and unusual. But because the media seems to feel that nobody's interested the aftermath of the 2010 BP spill, the biggest offshore oil disaster in US history, you probably didn't hear about it. I know I didn't.

Since then, we've seen a similar tale play out: more mutated shrimp. More deformed shellfish. More fish with repulsive-looking lesions stretching across their scales.

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."

Rooks, who grew up fishing with her parents, said she had never seen such things in these waters, and her seafood catch last year was "ten per cent what it normally is".

Federal agencies are mum as to what's causing the deformities, but a number of researchers and locals, mustering all of the common sense they've got, think they've uncovered a suspect. I won't give it away, but here's a hint: it spewed 4.9 million gallons of crude into the Gulf ecosystem.

Now, this Al Jazeera video segment is a few months old, but ever since I saw these epic high-res photos of the rig exploding, I've been poking around the detritus of the media's seriously lacking spill coverage a little more closely. This one never made it onto Treehugger, and it's a report everyone should see.

BP refused Al Jazeera's request to comment on this issue for a television interview, but provided a statement that read:

"Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is among the most tested in the world, and, according to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), it is as safe now as it was before the accident."

And if you believe this, I have a bridge I'll like to sell you.

It's a stark reminder that all is not returning to normal in the Gulf, despite what BP's media team would like to believe—the book is still opening on the kind of ecological damage the region will suffer in the long tail of the oily catastrophe.

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