Oil spill is boon to bacteria

Last month's blowout of British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil well -- which caused the US Commerce Department to decree today (25th May) that fisheries in three states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are official disasters -- is likely already impacting the Gulf's microscopic denizens, which will, in turn, have long-term effects on commercially important species such as fish and shrimp, scientists say. Image: National Oceanographic andAtmospheric AdministrationImages of oil-soaked sea gulls an

Bob Grant
Bob Grant

Bob Grant is Editor in Chief of The Scientist, where he started in 2007 as a Staff Writer.

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May 24, 2010
Last month's blowout of British Petroleum's Deepwater Horizon oil well -- which caused the US Commerce Department to decree today (25th May) that fisheries in three states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are official disasters -- is likely already impacting the Gulf's microscopic denizens, which will, in turn, have long-term effects on commercially important species such as fish and shrimp, scientists say.
Image: National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Administration
Images of oil-soaked sea gulls and tar coated turtles, which typically follow major oil spills, are starting to materialize in the Gulf, but bacterial populations are likely to boom in response to the release of millions of gallons of oil, linkurl:Monty Graham,;http://www.gulfbase.org/person/view.php?uid=wgraham biological oceanographer at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab off the coast of Alabama, told __The Scientist__. Bacteria could benefit from the oil spill, Graham argued, because some bacterial species and lineages view a massive oil spill as a veritable cornucopia...




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