Written by Doug Stewart
FRISCO — Along with fouling beaches and wetlands along the Gulf Coast, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill also had profound impacts on the open ocean and deep sea environment. The four million barrels of crude oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s failed oil drilling operation potentially exposed millions of fish and other ocean organisms to highly toxic compounds.
That includes many commercially and ecologically important open-ocean fish species such as bluefin and yellowfin tunas, mahi mahi, king and Spanish mackerels. In one of the most recent followup studies on the impacts of the spill, researchers with the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that exposure to the crude oil resulted in decreased swimming performance in young mahi mahi.
Other recent research has showed how oil exposure causes heart defects in bluefin tuna, as well as fundamental defects at the developmental level. Researchers have also documented serious health impacts to dolphins in Barataria Bay. One of the studies concluded that, “losses of early life stages were likely for Gulf populations of tunas, amberjack, swordfish, billfish, and other large predators that spawned in oiled surface habitats.”
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