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Environment: Oil from Deepwater Horizon spill causes serious developmental and sensory defects in fish

‘The oil is not gone yet. This disaster is not over. There are embryos right now that are still getting exposed to that oil.’

Zebrafish. PHOTO COURTESY THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

The Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform after the April 2010 explosion. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. COAST GUARD.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster causes very specific and potentially lethal defects in fish, including heart problems and loss of facial cartilage.

The oil also prevents fish from swimming away from danger, probably because of damage to sensory neurons, according to a study published this week in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Biology.

In a controlled lab setting, Dr. Michael Barresi and his students at Smith University in Massachusetts exposed zebrafish (a common freshwater fish often found in aquariums) to concentrations of oil that probably still exist at similar levels in the gulf today, two years after the Macondo Well spewed millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf. Continue reading

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