The media’s total blackout of the devastation the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion has had on Gulf Seafood, where eyeless shrimp and fish with lesions are becoming common, is a testament to media bias, corruption, and cowardice in the face of political and corporate power.
Roughly five million barrels of oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico as BP dumped nearly 2 million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants to break up and drive the oil under the ocean’s surface.
Instead of news reports covering the destructive impact BP’s oil and dispersants have had on Gulf Seafood, we see a barrage of BP public service announcements about the millions of people who have returned to the Gulf and how great the conditions are.
The media restricts their broadcasts to unchallenged FDA and Environmental Protection Agency distortions and lies about the safety of Gulf Seafood. According to the FDA and NOAA, Gulf Seafood is as safe now as it was before the accident and BP claims that fish lesions are common.
Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal continues to claim Gulf Seafood is safe.
“Gulf seafood has consistently tested lower than the safety thresholds established by the FDA for the levels of oil and dispersant contamination that would pose a risk to human health.”
The world is forced to get the truth about Gulf Seafood from foreign news agencies such as Al Jazeera, who reports Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP’s 2010 oil disaster.
Maybe that explains why cable news shows such as CNN have suffered a 21-Year Primetime Ratings Low. In June, CNN news registered its lowest-rated quarter in primetime since 1991.
For this year’s second quarter, CNN hit a low among total viewers and the key adults 25-54 demographic, with all primetime programs posting steep declines.
Reporting for Al Jazeera, Dahr Jamail, an American journalist best known as one of the few unembedded journalists to report extensively from Iraq, claims that along with collapsing fisheries are horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp – and among all those interviewed, BP’s oil pollution disaster is named as being the cause.
Tracy Kuhns and her husband Mike Roberts, Louisiana commercial fishers are finding eyeless shrimp.
“At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these,” Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.
According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: “Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets.”
“Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico],” she added, “They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don’t have their usual spikes … they look like they’ve been burned off by chemicals.”
Brown shrimp catch has dropped by two-thirds, and most white shrimp have been wiped out. Sidney Schwartz, a fourth-generation fisherman said that he had seen shrimp with defects on their gills, and “their shells missing around their gills and head”.
“We’ve fished here all our lives and have never seen anything like this,” he added. Dr Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, has conducted tests on seafood and sediment samples along the Gulf for chemicals present in BP’s crude oil and toxic dispersants.
“Tests have shown significant levels of oil pollution in oysters and crabs along the Louisiana coastline,” Subra told Al Jazeera. “We have also found high levels of hydrocarbons in the soil and vegetation.”
Cascading Effect Throughout Food Web
Dr Andrew Whitehead, an associate professor of biology at Louisiana State University, co-authored the report Genomic and physiological footprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on resident marsh fishes that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in October 2011.
Whitehead’s work establishes a direct link between BP’s oil and the negative impacts on the Gulf’s food web evidenced by studies on killifish before, during and after the oil disaster.
“What we found is a very clear, genome-wide signal, a very clear signal of exposure to the toxic components of oil that coincided with the timing and the locations of the oil,” Whitehead told Al Jazeera during an interview in his lab.
According to Whitehead, the killifish is an important indicator because they are the most abundant fish in the marshes, and are known to be the most important forage animal in their communities.
“That means that most of the large fish that we like to eat and that these are important fisheries for, actually feed on the killifish,” he explained.
“So if there were to be a big impact on those animals, then there would probably be a cascading effect throughout the food web. I can’t think of a worse animal to knock out of the food chain than the killifish.”