Massive Fish Kills in Louisiana’s Bayou

Photograph courtesy P.J. Hahn, Plaquemines Parish

The National Geographic News published this picture taken on September 10th in Louisiana’s Bayou Chaland.  The article written by Christine Dell’Amore was titled Massive Fish Kill in Gulf Caused by “Dead Zone,” Oil? 

As you can see by the picture, there were thousands of dead fish found in the marshlands.  Surprisingly it is normal to have fish kills during the late summer because agricultural runoff from the Mississippi River causes low oxygen levels in the water.  The fish generally get trapped during low tide and due to the lack of oxygen in the remaining water, it becomes a dead zone.  Problem is this year they have found oil in the area and the fish kill is much larger.  It seems that this year LSU will test the fish and see if they can find the cause of the fish kill.  LSU fish toxicologist Kevin Kleinow is interviewed and he doubts that testing will conclude any substantial evidence as fish decompose so quickly.

It is worth noting that there is 12,355 square miles of Louisiana wetlands making it one of the largest and productive ecosystems in the United States.  One of the largest reasons for using dispersants for the Gulf oil spill this summer was to attempt to stop the oil from entering the wetlands by breaking down the oil into small particles that would sink.  But these good intentions did not work and oil was found in the marshes within a month of the explosion.

Check out this video for more info:

This news video is about the Bayou Robinson also in Louisiana and it seems to have some of the same questions.  As you may pick up in the video the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries made light of the fish kill and thought it was just low oxygen levels and there was no need to test; however, within thirty minutes of the interview they contacted the news station and advised they would be tested by LSU.  

Public perception is very important….are you willing to eat seafood from the Gulf?  I think I will pass.  This is going to be an ongoing saga in the Gulf that will not only affect wildlife but the economy of the United States.

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