Friday, April 15, 2011

Sick fish suggest oil spill still affecting Gulf

By Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Sunday, April 17, 2011

Some red snapper caught in the area of the oil spill have severe fin rot, particularly on their anal fins. A healthy fish would be able to fight off such infections, scientists say. They suspect that the immune systems have collapsed as a result of a toxin. 
(Caption for the picture on the original article).
A year after the Deepwater Horizon disaster spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the Florida beaches are relatively clean, the surf seems clear and the tourists are returning. But there are signs that the disaster is continuing to affect marine life in the gulf far from where humans can observe it.
Over the winter, anglers who had been working the gulf for decades began hauling in red snapper that didn't look like anything they had seen before.
The fish had dark lesions on their skin, some the size of a 50-cent piece. On some of them, the lesions had eaten a hole straight through to the muscle tissue. Many had fins that were rotting away and discolored or even striped skin. Inside, they had enlarged livers, gallbladders, and bile ducts.
"The fish have a bacterial infection and a parasite infection that's consistent with a compromised immune system," said Jim Cowan, an oceanographer at Louisiana State University, who has been examining them. "There's no doubt it's associated with a chronic exposure to a toxin."
***NOTE: DO YA'LL STILL THINK THE SEAFOOD IS SAFE? We tried to warn people at the Science of the Spill event in St. Pete put together by the local Sierra Club last November, but they would not allow us to speak about the safety of the seafood or the human impact.

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