Marine Life Confusing “Dispersed” Oil with Sea Habitat

from Wildlife Promise

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.

But we don’t have to sit on our hands. The Senate has started a national conversation about what our energy future should look like. Will you make your voice heard?

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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.