Legacy Of BP Oil Spill: Eyeless Shrimp And Fish With Lesions

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded nearly two years ago to the day, beginning an oil spill that lasted three months and released some two hundred million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. BP may have declared their mission accomplished, but the results of the spill are still trickling out.

The latest? Shrimp with no eyes, fish with lesions, and clawless crabs.

Scientists believe that shrimp, fish, and crabs in the gulf have been deformed by the chemical released to disperse oil during the spill. Fishers in the area say that they’ve been noticing deformities on their catches since. Al Jazeera reports:

“At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these,” [Louisiana commercial fisher Tracy] Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.


According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: “Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets.

“Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico],” she added, “They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don’t have their usual spikes … they look like they’ve been burned off by chemicals.” […]

The dispersants are known to be mutagenic, a disturbing fact that could be evidenced in the seafood deformities. Shrimp, for example, have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP’s disaster began, giving the chemicals time to enter the genome.

BP claims to be investigating any toxicity and testing fish in the gulf, but they also claimed these marshes were clean. The company is clearly trying to distance itself from the spill, which was a public relations disaster. Indeed, just today, BP came to a settlement agreement with plaintiffs suing over health and economic issues related to the spill.

At the same time, deep water drilling has started again. And though details are still only emerging on the full impact of the spill, some want the U.S. to move back into offshore drilling as aggressively as possible. Today, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) went on the Senate floor to advocate for more drilling permits in the Gulf, arguing that “mother nature has proved amazingly resilient” in the wake of the spill.

Tell that to the fish without livers and the shrimp without eyes.