Massive Fish Kill in Mississippi Caused by BP Oil Disaster?

August 24, 2010

(ChattahBox)–A massive fish kill discovered on Sunday in the Mississippi River Gulf, has prompted local officials to investigate whether it was caused by the BP Gulf oil spill. The initial cause for the thousands of dead fish, has been attributed to low oxygen levels in the water, which is not an uncommon occurrence during the warm weather months. But the next day, tar balls and an orange colored substance, with a “strong diesel smell” were found nearby, on Grassy Island. And the fish kill comes on the heels of a disturbing report, issued by scientists from the University of South Florida, finding the vital phytoplankton, which is the “base of the food web” compromised by the oil spill and use of toxic chemical dispersants. The affected phytoplankton has the potential to create a toxic dead zone, killing marine life in the oxygen-deprived waters.

According to the report by The Times-Picayune, officials don’t want to “jump to any conclusions” regarding the cause of the fish kill, but they plan to continue monitoring the waters for signs of toxicity:

“The fish were found Sunday afternoon, floating near boom that had been deployed in the area to catch oil from the BP oil leak, and washed up on the shoreline, St. Bernard Parish government said in a news release.

“By our estimates there were thousands, and I’m talking about 5,000 to 15,000 dead fish. Different species were found dead including crabs, sting rays, eel, drum, speckled trout, red fish, you name it, included in that kill,” St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro said.” [...]

Skimmers were deployed on Monday to clean up the oil and tar balls found on Grassy Island.

This is certainly something to watch. As previously reported by ChattahBox, compromised phytoplankton, forming the base of the marine food web, is bad news for the commercial fishing industry.

“Because phytoplankton are so crucial to ocean biology and climate, any change in their productivity could have a significant influence on biodiversity, fisheries and the human food supply, and the pace of global warming,” according to NASA.

Photo Source: NASA


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