Oil Spill's Less-Obvious Effects May Be Most Severe
While international media has been quick to focus on oil-soaked pelicans and the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in commercial fishing income, there’s not much play in the story that the BP spill could hasten the demise of pelagic fish. But as The New York Times recently reported, scientists are increasingly concerned that contamination of offshore spawning grounds have already had a devastating impact on future generations of billfish, sharks, tarpon and other species that depend on specific parts of the Gulf for reproduction.
“In fact, scientists say, it is virtually certain that billions of fish eggs and larvae have died in the spill, which came at the worst possible time of the year. Spawning season for many fish in the gulf begins in April and runs into the summer. The drilling rig exploded on April 20, and the spill has since covered thousands of square miles with patches of oil.”
Of additional concern to Florida and Texas tarpon guides: that the migratory paths of tarpon, which annually converge near the Louisiana cost, will lead to problems for even mature fish.