In a new study published in Science, researchers demonstrate how oil from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill causes heart cells in tuna to malfunction.
Oceana’s Vice President for U.S. Oceans Jacqueline Savitz, calls on the United States government to give fish a break, and instead break our addiction to oil:
“We typically hear about people having broken hearts on Valentine’s Day, but this year the heartbreak story is about tuna. The heart is a critical organ, not just for humans, but also for fish. If their hearts don’t function properly, fish don’t have much chance for survival. For many Bluefin tuna, which are economically important but severely depleted, broken or poorly functioning hearts may have been the end of their story. We need to rebuild our economically important fisheries, like the Bluefin tuna fishery, rather than subjecting them to the effects of offshore drilling. Breaking our addiction to oil and moving to clean energy provides many benefits while also being better for fish.
Fish larvae are generally more sensitive to the toxic effects of oil and other chemicals than adults. Even in a healthy ocean, only a small fraction of larval fish have what it takes to make it to adulthood. So after a spill, toxic chemicals in the oil could wipe out some of the few fish that might have otherwise succeeded, which could be a major setback to a species in need of recovery such as Bluefin tuna.
This is only one of the many invisible impacts of oil spills like Deepwater Horizon. Scientists also recently confirmed that the oil spill caused illnesses in Gulf dolphins.
Sadly, four years after the spill, offshore drilling is still not safe. This and other studies on the impacts of the spill underline the importance of breaking our oil addiction and not expanding offshore drilling into the Atlantic or the Arctic. We are grateful to NOAA scientists and others who are continuing to work hard to show us the full extent of the damages this spill has had on our resources."