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Dead Fish Are Washing Up Everywhere . . . Is It Due to BP Oil Spill and Dispersants?

Dead Fish Are Washing Up Everywhere . . . Is It Due to BP Oil Spill and Dispersants?

Carl Pellegrin (left) of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Tim Kimmel of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prepare to net an oiled pelican in Barataria Bay, La., Saturday, June 5, 2010. The pelican was successfully netted and transported to a facility on Grand Isle, Louisiana., for stabilization before being taken to Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Venice, La., for cleaning. State and federal wildlife agencies are cooperating across the Gulf Coast to rescue wildlife affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  UPI/John Miller/U.S. Coast Guard Photo via Newscom

Courtesy of Washington’s Blog

Dead fish are washing up everywhere.

For example, numerous dead fish washed ashore in Massachusetts a couple of days ago:
 

Dead fish had washed up in New Jersey yesterday.

Hundreds of thousands of dead fish washed up today in New Jersey, and even the birds wouldn’t eat them:

(The second report in this video compilation – referring to a ripped fishing net – is actually from Virginia, some 210 miles from the scene of the first report in New Jersey. The size of the Virginia fish incident was much smaller than the one in New Jersey.)

And they have washed up in Mississippi as well.

Scientists attribute the dead fish to low oxygen levels in the Gulf of Mexico.

Indeed, scientists have been warning about this for months. For example, on May 16th, the New York Times wrote:

Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.

As I pointed out in June, the high methane content in the BP crude also depletes oxygen:

As CBS notes:

The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill.

As Kessler also points out:

 This is the most vigorous methane eruption in modern human history.

A U.S. scientist says that methane levels in the Gulf are "astonishingly high", that 1 million times the normal level of methane gas has been found in some regions near the oil spill, high enough to create "dead zones" devoid of life. Methane depletes oxygen, and the scientist noted:

At some locations, we saw depletions of up to 30 percent of oxygen based on its natural concentration in the waters.

Another scientist writes

Researchers studying the [plumes] have found concentrations of methane up to 10,000 times greater than normal and oxygen levels depleted by 40 percent below normal.

And see this, this and this.

This unprecedented release of methane into the ocean could kill all life within large swaths of the Gulf of Mexico.

In addition, millions of gallons of Corexit have been sprayed in the Gulf. Corexit contains oil, propylene glycol and a host of other chemicals. Propylene glycol depletes oxygen from water. See this and this.

Of course, separate and apart from its oxygen-depleting properties, Corexit is itself toxic to fish. Given that even seagulls won’t touch the fish that are washing up today, the fish should be tested for Corexit poisoning.

Even if there are other causes for the fish deaths – such as unusually warm water in the Gulf – the oil, methane and Corexit could very well be contributing to the oxygen depletion or weakening the fish’s ability to deal with such factors.

Note: If you are confused as to how the oil spill could affect the East Coast, please see this and this.


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