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.

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