Jul 14, 2010 6:47 AM by Sharlee Barriere
NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Scientists are reporting early signs that the
Gulf of Mexico oil spill is altering the marine food web by killing
or tainting some creatures and spurring the growth of others more
suited to a fouled environment.
Near the spill site, researchers have documented a massive
die-off of pyrosomes - cucumber-shaped, gelatinous organisms fed on
by endangered sea turtles.
Along the coast, droplets of oil are being found inside the
shells of young crabs that are a mainstay in the diet of fish,
turtles and shorebirds.
And at the base of the food web, tiny organisms that consume oil
and gas are proliferating.
If such impacts continue, the scientists warn of a reshuffling
of sealife that could over time cascade through the ecosystem and
imperil the region's fishing industry.