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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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Potential Threats from BP Oil to Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna, Swordfish and Amberjack

Posted On April 8, 2014 by

© Cheryl Gerber

A new study published last month reveals how the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster likely caused life-threatening heart deformities and irregular function in the fish embryos of yellowfin tuna, bluefin tuna, amberjack and swordfish.

If you’re thinking that this sounds like another study we reported on last month, then you’re right. A number of different studies have been conducted on fish hearts, and each of them is an important piece of the puzzle that scientists are assembling to understand the impacts of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

This latest study conducted by Dr. John Incardona and others clarifies how the oil from the BP oil disaster affects the embryos of large predatory fish living in the open ocean (or pelagic zone) of the Gulf of Mexico. Previous studies have determined that crude oil can be toxic or have delayed fatal effects on fish living in cold Arctic waters, such as pink salmon, or in warm freshwaters, such as zebrafish. We’ve also recently learned that Gulf killifish living in oiled areas of coastal Louisiana are suffering from deformed hearts and reduced chances of survival; another study helped us better understood the mechanism by which crude oil affects tuna hearts. Collectively, this research allowed scientists to make assumptions about how oil might affect fish living in the warm offshore waters of the Gulf.

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Interview: Dr. John Incardona on Oil’s Heartbreaking Impact on Fish and What it Means for Gulf Restoration

Posted On December 17, 2013 by

(This blog is part of a series of interviews with scientists who are championing marine research in the Gulf of Mexico.)

Dr. John Incardona is an ecotoxicologist and researcher at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Northwest Fisheries Science Center who spent much of his childhood in the Gulf of Mexico. Trained as a physician, he did his postdoctoral research into human birth defects, which eventually led him to study how chemicals affect fish embryos. He found that specific chemicals in crude oil are toxic to the hearts of developing zebrafish – a major finding with implications for assessing the health of wild fish before and after large-scale disasters. Ocean Conservancy talked with Dr. Incardona about his work and the new research tools that could be put to use in the Gulf and elsewhere.
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