LSU professor: “There’s nothing there” — Fishermen “telling us that the reefs are just dead”

How Healthy Is the Gulf? Fishermen and Oilmen Clash, The Atlantic, March 10, 2011:

Emphasis Added

James Cowan, a veteran researcher and professor at Louisiana State University's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science, told me in an interview that the picture was just beginning to unfold for his team. The news is not encouraging. "We expect that if there is going to be a problem from the spill, it's going to be in reproductive biology," he said. Early signs suggest that the number of young white shrimp juveniles in estuaries has been reduced following the spill.

On the reefs further offshore, critical areas where red snappers and groupers live before migrating to deeper water, fishermen have reported dismal catches of red snappers in areas that have been productive in the past. "They are telling us that the reefs are just dead," Cowan said. "There's nothing there." The few fish that are being caught are at the tops of some underwater pinnacles, which makes sense, Cowan said, if the oil has migrated to the bottom.

More worrying, according to Cowan, is that a lot of oil lies buried under just a few centimeters of silt--just deep enough to cut off the oxygen that oil-destroying microbes need to work. For now, the oil remains intact, but it could be flushed back into the water should the bottom be disturbed buy something like a tropical storm. "That stuff is just waiting," Cowan said. ...

"Right now, with this new season beginning to unfold, we're likely to see more impacts," he said. "BP wants to settle, settle, settle. But people who study the Gulf and actually understand it know that the impacts will be felt in different ways for different species long after BP's liability will have been discharged."

Read the report here.

2 comments to LSU professor: “There’s nothing there” — Fishermen “telling us that the reefs are just dead”

  • xdrfox

    I Saw None of the Usual Life There, Only Algae Seems Thriving in the Halifax River Fl. *PICS*
    Thursday, February 03, 2011 ...
    After all the death of so much in the river and ocean last summer and fall, I kinda expected what I found ! A Macrocosm and microcosm of what is ahead.

  • Dixie

    And it's " Just come on down, everything is fine". It is such a catch 22. The people of the gulf have to survive and have to over ride their conscience which normally they would not do. It makes me SICK that they have been put in this position by politicians. TO my fellow Southerners, do NOT give up and DO NOT BACK DOWN! Never sell out your integrity if at all possible! That is what makes the South unique in this day and age! We still have INTEGRITY and to earn our own way! My prayers are with all of you every day!

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