Scientists Study BP Oil in Gulf Food Chain_Featured_, Toxicity Monday, November 8th, 2010
A study done by scientists at Alabama’s Dauphin Island Sea Lab suggests that oil from the BP spill could enter the ocean food chain, and eventually end up contaminating the seafood that we eat. The research was published in IOP Publishing’s Environmental Research Letters.
The underwater food web starts with bacteria that have the ability to consume crude oil, and ever since BP’s recent Deepwater Horizon oil spill, bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico have eaten their fill of carbon-rich crude oil. The chain continues when zooplankton eat the bacteria, and zooplankton are food for fish, jellyfish, and whales.
Scientists knew bacteria would eat the oil, but weren’t sure how much oil residue would be found higher up in the food chain. The recent study found enough carbon in gulf zooplankton to suggest that oil had entered their food chain, but researchers are still uncertain as to whether the amount of carbon detected means oil toxins have entered the food chain. However, the study does show that there is indeed a pathway for oil toxins to to enter into the marine food chain, which may eventually lead to contamination of the seafood people eat.