How the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Could Wind Up On Your Dinner Plate

Oil-crab On the scale of "horrific environmental disasters" the Gulf Spill is already a 10 in my book. Reports like this one on how the oil and dispersant is likely to move it's way up the food chain have got me thinking we need a new scale of badness.

Tulane researchers have been sampling tens of thousands of blue crab larvae, which is in the early stages of the crab's complex life cycle once the larvae leave offshore areas and head into the estuaries.  The samples are being collected from sites that stretch from Galveston, Texas to Apalachicola, Florida.

"The weird thing we've been seeing is that there's little orange blobs inside the crabs' bodies," said Erin Grey, a post doctoral researcher at Tulane.

Another researcher at the University of Southern Mississippi's Ocean Springs campus said the orange droplets appear to be lodged between the larvae's outer shell and its inner skin. Harriet Perry, Fisheries Dir. at USM's Gulf Coast Research Lab, said, "I've been working with blue crabs for 42 years, and this is the first time I have ever seen this..."

Grey said if the orange "blobs" are toxins they could easily magnify up the food chain because just about everything eats crab larvae.  She said, "it's not necessarily a problem if you eat one of them, but let's say a larger crab eats 50 of these larvae.. all of sudden there's 50 times the amount of toxins.. let's say that crab gets eaten by a fish that also eats 50 other crabs.. so then you have 50 times 50."

It's the newest seafood innovation. No cooking oil necessary when preparing seafood on the grill or in the frying pan. I can almost smell the sizzle of oil dispersant wafting through the house.

I grew up fishing for blue crabs with a chicken on the end of a string. It's one of my fondest memories of growing up in New Bern, North Carolina. I highly recommend the book "Beautiful Swimmers" that describes the blue crab fishery in the Chesapeake Bay territory. It's a classic reflection on the wonder and fragility of a saltwater ecosystem.