Oil In Gulf’s Food Web

From Harlan Kirgan, Mississippi Press

Oil droplets have been found beneath the shells of tiny post-larval blue crabs drifting into Mississippi coastal marshes from offshore waters. The finding represents one of the first examples of how oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill is moving into the Gulf of Mexico’s food chain. The larval crabs are eaten by all kinds of fish, from speckled trout to whale sharks, as well as by shore birds. The tiny droplets are visible under the transparent shells of the 2-millimeter-sized crabs collected in Davis Bayou, said Harriet Perry, director for the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Laboratorys Center for Fisheries Research and Development…

“In all the years we’ve collected, I’ve never seen anything like that, said Perry. “Just to make sure, we did send some of the megalopa (the post-larval crabs) to a testing firm in Pensacola and the droplets we saw were hydrocarbons.”…The oil droplets also are being found in fiddler crab larvae. Perry said the crabs may lose the droplets when the molt and shed their shells…About 41 percent of the offshore larval pool is covered by oil, she said…Oil covering the offshore larval grounds threatens a year’s class of crabs, she said.

Dr. M (1730 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (http://deepseanews.com/), a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (http://www.scienceofthesouth.com/), connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

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