Friday, 11 July 2014

Fish skin lesions, oil residue decline in years after Gulf oil spill

Scientists studying the impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the health of fish in the Gulf of Mexico have found strong evidence that an outbreak of skin lesions and oil residue signatures discovered in fishes a year after the spill may be related to the catastrophe.

Publishing in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, scientists from the University of South Florida (USF), the Florida Institute of Oceanography (FIO) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) reported that there was strong chemical resemblance of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout to that found in the fish livers and muscle of fishes sampled from the northern Gulf of Mexico. The researchers were also able to rule out pathogens and oceanographic conditions as potential causes for the lesions.

"The higher rates of skin lesions in 2011 vs. 2012 were not due to an outbreak of pathogens or abnormally low salinity, and thus the hypothesis that DWH was responsible for the higher rates of skin lesions remains viable," said researcher Steven Murawski, a professor of population dynamics and marine ecosystem analysis at USF's College of Marine Science.

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