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Life in the Gulf Hurting, But Effect on Seafood Unknown

Hung's Seafood in New Iberia, Louisiana.
Hung's Seafood in New Iberia, Louisiana.
Photo: flickr / adie reed

So it looks like it's BP Oil Spill Day over at the Wall Street Journal, as today's paper has two stories about the spill and its effects on all of those swimmy-crawly things that live in the Gulf. The really bad news, according to scientists studying the spill (subscription required), is that new studies "are raising fresh concerns about the effect of the leaked crude on a range of sea life, from tiny animal plankton to dolphins."

Experts are saying that the "death and destruction" they anticipated hasn't really occurred, but that at the same time "things are just a little bit out of kilter." Dolphins are acting weird, at least one coral reef is dying, and zooplankton definitely ate some oil, though that last study "didn't speculate on whether the oil may have harmed the zooplankton nor did it say what the effect could be on larger organisms." But as anyone who's ever watched an ocean documentary knows, plankton are pretty much necessary for everything.

So what's the effect of all of this on seafood, the stuff people down here eat and make a living catching and selling? Well, that's still unclear. (Sorry for the cop-out.) The brown-shrimp season was good, the white-shrimp one was not. In some places oysters were plentiful, in others they were not. As of right now, "the industry [is] holding its collective breath."

· Experts Weigh Spill's Lasting Effects [WSJ, subsc. req.]
· Spill Toll on Shellfish Slow to Become Clear [WSJ]
· All Gulf Seafood Coverage on Eater NOLA [-ENOLA-]