Don’t miss Lou Dolinar over on the homepage on how the fauna-doomsday predictions following the BP disaster have not come to fruition. The opener:
The catastrophists were wrong (again) about the Deep Water Horizon oil spill. There have been no major fish die-offs. On the contrary, a comprehensive new study says that in some of the most heavily fished areas of the Gulf of Mexico, various forms of sea life, from shrimp to sharks, have seen their populations triple since before the spill. Some species, including shrimp and croaker, did even better.
And meanwhile, the media has greatly exaggerated damage found in studies about coral, which is in some ways more vulnerable to oil and dispersant. Most of it is doing fine.
The growth of the fish population is not occurring because oil is good for fish. Rather, it is occurring because fishing is bad for fish. When fishing was banned for months during the spill, the Gulf of Mexico experienced an unprecedented marine renaissance that overwhelmed any negative environmental consequences the oil may have had, researchers say.
Even the researchers themselves, however, were surprised by the results. “We expected there to be virtually no fish out there based on all the reports we were getting about the toxicity of the dispersant and the toxicity of the hydrocarbons, and reports that hypoxia [low oxygen] had been created as a result of the oil and dispersant,” says John Valentine, who directed the study. “In every way you can imagine, it should have been a hostile environment for fish and crabs; our collection showed that was not the case.”
Also surprising was how quickly the populations grew. “In the cosmic scheme of things, a matter of four or five months led to this huge difference in everything, sharks, fish of all forms, even the juvenile fish found in sea-grass beds. That’s a pretty interesting and unanticipated outcome, I would say,” says Valentine. The surge is so robust, he says, that it may be impossible to determine whether the oil spill has had any effect on sea life at all.
The rest here.