Marine Life Confusing “Dispersed” Oil with Sea Habitat
Are you like me? Do you not think much about seaweed unless it gets caught in your bathing suit?
Until my 10-hour boat trip across oil spill-impacted areas last week, I had no idea what a critical role sargassum, a surface seaweed, plays in the food chain. Our boat captain showed me what’s just beneath the surface:
We repeated the process several times, pulling up & releasing crabs, shrimp, fish, even a baby octopus no bigger than a walnut.
So what does seaweed have to do with the BP oil spill? The creatures under the surface — from shrimp to tiny “bait” fish to mahi mahi — appear to be mistaking rafts of “dispersed” oil for their natural seaweed habitat:
What will be the short-term & long-term impacts on the species & ecosystems that so many depend on, from the seafood industry to seaside hotel owners to wildlife lovers all across over America? I hate to use a cliche, but unfortunately we’ll have to wait & see.
For all the latest news on how the oil spill is impacting the Gulf Coast’s wildlife & to learn how you can help, visit www.nwf.org/oilspill.