The 2010 BP Oil Spill Continues to Disrupt the Gulf’s Ecosystem

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In 2010, the largest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico took place when 3 million barrels worth of crude oil gushed into the water. Of course, this kind of disaster immediately effects creatures living in the ocean, but a new study from the University of California shows the negative results as six years have passed.

As the sun’s ultraviolet rays beam down on the black substance, it becomes weathered and its structure changes. According to these university scientists, it becomes even more detrimental to the ecologically important Mahi fish embryos and larvae.

 UCR Today quotes Professor of Aquatic Ecotoxicology Daniel Schlenk as explaining, “We found that the weathering of oil had more significant changes in gene expression related to critical functions in the embryos and larvae than the un-weathered oil. Our results predict that there are multiple targets of oil for toxicity to this species at the embryonic life stage.”

Through these studies, they’ve noticed the fishes’ eyes, hearts and brain functions have morphed. But a further set of experiments are needed to see how this relates to the overall life of the fish.

As UCR Today says, “Schlenk believes that it is imperative for environmental scientists to understand how contaminants cause toxicity so that uncertainties in risk assessments can be diminished.” Since this particular experiment only took four months to complete, his team might be abel to uncover more information soon.