Tests on fish exposed to BP oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster show long-term damage to wildlife, peer-reviewed study published Monday concluded. The study found that gulf killifish, a small minnow-like creature and major Gulf food source, show signs of cellular damage.
Exposure to toxins has altered the way the killifish’s cells function, the study said. Similar cellular changes in other species has lead to a decrease in reproduction rates, and is likely to lead to the same fate in killifish, as well as other biological and health problems.
The study’s findings are an alarming signal that Gulf biodiversity—and the economy that relies on it—may continue to struggle with the aftermath of the BP disaster for decades to come. “Similar health effects seen in fish, sea otters and harlequin ducks following the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska were predictive of population impacts, from decline to outright collapse,” Doug Inkley, a senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation said in a statement.