Tuesday, March 25, 2014

1 million gallons of oil possibly spilled in Gulf Coast waters-birds and fish in danger

via http://blog.al.com/wire/2014/03/1_million_gallons_of_oil_possi.html

GALVESTON, Texas-- A barge carrying in excess of 900,000 gallons of what is described as "especially thick" marine fuel collided with a ship Saturday in Galveston Bay.

The oil spill threatens a bird habitat, causing concern among environmentalists.

The bird habitat stands to be greatly effected with the migratory cycle at its peak, according to ABC.

Officials don't know exactly how much of the fuel leaked, but they do know that one of the main tanks was breached.

"A large amount of that has been discharged," Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Kristopher Kidd said Saturday.

Oil sheen is visible in the area.

The marine fuel, also known as "special bunker," is tremendously challenging to clean up, and various agencies are working to do so.

Earlier this week, tar balls washed ashore in south Mississippi three years after the BP/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Gulf oil may be big trouble for big fish

(CNN) -- Funny thing about fish: You can see right through them in their infancy and watch their organs develop.

That gave scientists looking into the aftereffects of 2010's Gulf of Mexico oil spill the chance to watch the growing hearts of large commercial species like tuna and amberjack after exposing them in laboratories to oil collected from the undersea blowout. The results ranged from abnormal heartbeats in fish exposed to low concentrations of oil to "severely malformed and malfunctioning hearts" at high levels, said John Incardona, an environmental toxicologist from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Incardona is the lead author of a NOAA-led study published Monday that warned those heart defects could lead to widespread losses of popular deep-sea fish in the gulf. He and his colleagues exposed bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and amberjack embryos to concentrations of oil "that mimicked what happened in the Gulf of Mexico," he said.

Even where the volatile compounds in oil made up as little as one millionth of a gram per liter, some fish ended up with heart problems, they reported.

"Those fish would in all likelihood survive the immediate effects of oil exposure, but would also probably end up with a milder heart malformation that could reduce their aerobic performance -- which for fish, means swimming," Incardona said.

Fishermen hauled in more than 1,500 tons of tuna and amberjack across the gulf in 2012, according to NOAA catch statistics. Scientists have already tracked a sharp decline in bluefin tuna, but the findings may spell trouble for other big fish as well, Incardona and his colleagues reported.

How extensive any losses may be is still under study, but estimates may come "in a few months," said Barbara Block, a Stanford University biologist and co-author of Monday's study.

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