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Gulf of Mexico

Wave of sick, injured Gulf fish has scientists questioning whether BP disaster to blame

Thursday, May 12, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: Gulf of Mexico, sick fish, health news

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(NaturalNews) Fish with strange skin lesions, abnormal fins, discolorations, liver blood clots, and other mysterious health issues are turning up in the inland and coastal waterways of the Gulf of Mexico, according to new reports. Unable to explain the phenomenon, many scientists suspect that the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster that occurred last April may be to blame, as Gulf waters became highly contaminated with both crude oil and Corexit chemicals dumped into Gulf water by the US government.

Many of the abnormalities now being observed in Gulf fish are similar to those observed in sea life following the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill at Alaska's Prince William Sound, which caused the herring fishery there to collapse and never recover. According to a report in the Pensacola News Journal (PNJ), a similar pattern is taking place in the Gulf, which has experts worried that Gulf water conditions are much worse than they seem.

"I've had tens of thousands of fish in my hands and not seen these symptoms in so many fish before," said William Patterson III, a biologist from the University of West Florida (UWF), who has been studying fish for 15 years, to PNJ. "All those symptoms have been seen naturally before, but it's a matter of them all coming at once that we're concerned about."

Patterson is currently evaluating the long-term effects of the BP disaster on Gulf sea life. So far, he has observed serious lesions, external parasites, damaged livers and ovaries, and other serious symptoms indicative of severely compromised immune systems.

Multiple other teams of scientists are currently combing Gulf waters and studying the health of life there as well. Numerous investigations are currently underway, including several involving the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons in fish tissue. The ultimate goal of them all is to pinpoint precisely what is making Gulf fish sick.

"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 (LSU), to the St. Petersburg Times. "There's no doubt it's associated with a chronic exposure to a toxin."

Sources for this story include:

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