More Oil Spill News? Massive Fish Kill in Plaquemines Parish


The oil spill‘s over, right? After all, BP got the cap in place last month, and, according to reports, no more oil’s leaking into the Gulf. So the drop off in media coverage just reflects realities on the ground… right?

Could be. But, as many noted throughout this crisis, the end of the oil flowing into the Gulf wouldn’t mark the end of the story. In Southeastern Louisiana, local officials and media are wondering if recent large fish and wildlife kills are related to the spill, particularly the use of almost 2 million gallons of dispersant Corexit.

Last Friday, officials in Plaquemines Parish came across a massive kill in Bayou Chaland, west of the Mississippi River. According to parish president Billy Nungesser, the kill isn’t only remarkable for its size (the bayou looks a bit like a gravel road in photos), but also the diversity of species killed: “It’s not just one group of fish– it’s redfish and trout and flounder. All species have been identified in this fish kill.” An earlier version of this report from WWLTV in New Orleans (shown below) also mentioned dead crabs, sting rays, and eels, and the most recent version notes that this kill came shortly after the discovery of a starfish kill in “nearby Barataria Bay,” and the discovery of a dead whale on Monday.


The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has cited “low levels of dissolved oxygen” as the cause of the Bayou Chaland kill; NOAA and the Audubon Society are still discussing who will handle the autopsy of the dead whale. Nungesser, on the other hand, doesn’t think there’s nearly enough testing going on of the spill’s impact on many elements of Gulf ecosystems.

Effects of the oil spill? A natural occurrence? Who knows?

I don’t have the scientific background or the access to challenge the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ findings on the kill… but given the inflow of oil, plus the massive amounts of dispersant used during the leak itself, I do have to wonder why more people aren’t asking questions… and why this story’s getting so little attention outside of the areas directly affected. I only came across it because musician and activist Drew Landry posted the original version of WWLTV’s piece on Facebook… meanwhile, those of us not on the Gulf coast are hearing either nothing, or “All’s well… start eating oysters again…”

Are the subsequent chapters of this story getting downplayed, or just plain ignored? I’d love to hear more from those of you in affected areas, particularly if you’re seeing evidence that the mainstream narrative — it’s all over — isn’t exactly accurate. Please share your stories…

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  1. Bobby

    Fish kills happen periodically, and this one may or may not be related to the BP spill. According to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries:

    “It was the result of low levels of dissolved oxygen,” said Wildlife and Fisheries spokesperson Olivia Watkins. “This particular body of water becomes isolated during periods of low tide…. low tide kept the fish trapped in the body of water without access to the Gulf, limiting the available dissolved oxygen and killing the fish.”

    This type of situation is not unusual in overpopulated watersheds.

    On an aside, should the press set out to create another story for the purpose of fueling the flames and getting ratings? We both agreed that the Florida pastor – the one with a huge following of fifty (50) – who recently announced his intention to burn Korans became a newsworthy story simply because the press made it a newsworthy story in order to get ratings. If the press had not gotten involved he and his congregation would have burned 100 books (ink on paper wrapped in a cover), and no one would have given it a second thought. Burning “holy” books is a despicable act, but it does no real harm to the spirit of any religion since faith resides in the hearts of those who believe. Shouldn’t we let the authorities and the scientists conduct their respective investigations and studies before sensationalizing another unfortunate event?

  2. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    I guess I was engaging in wishful thinking with the press… thinking they might show how the spill could be continuing to affect people’s lives down there… but, after the whole Terry Jones fiasco, and the whole “the oil well’s capped, so no more worries” narrative, I should probably know better…

  3. Elissa

    @ AUG 12 2010 Fish kill happened in NJ can you explain how a fish kill can happenIn the Delaware Bay off the coast of CAPE MAY NJ????? http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2010/08/hundreds_of_dead_fish_wash_ash.html
    if heat and lack of oxygen r 2 blame here why were the sea gulls not eating the dead fish and why would happen to the smallest fish and no larger ones? are you telling me there are no other fish in the area but these??? now timline with currents from gulf and when dispersants were released into the ocean how long would it take to reach nj… im not saying it is a direct cause but how does this phemonona occur and is it possible the nj fish kill was the 1st in a series we may now be seeing?

  4. Bobby

    Jeff: There are still stories about the effects of the spill circulating in the print media and on the web. However, with the amount of other sensationalized news available and no “W” to blame, the press isn’t focusing on the BP spill to much these days. It is just not big enough to morph into another Katrina, which we still hear about daily five years later. I am more interested in the stories about oil breaking certain rules of physics and sinking to the bottom of the Gulf. It’s the first time something like that has ever happened.

    Elissa: The amount of oil spilled and dispersant released when compared to the volume of water in the Gulf would be equivalent to one drop in a bath tub full of water. It is a safe bet that the effects will only be local, and that NJ’s fish kill is due to other factors.

  5. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

    @Bobby… as I understand it (and I think this was from the article you sent me), that oil on the bottom of the Gulf bonded with other materials/compounds, which may explain it being there. So, it’s not simply “oil at the bottom of the Gulf…”

  6. Bobby

    Jeff: I believe some of the scientists actually theorized that a large number of nature’s oil eating bacteria died and sank to the bottom, after gorging themselves on fresh crude. Others say the chemical dispersant bonded with the oil and created a substance that sinks in water. Testing the first hypothesis would be difficult since one cannot by oil eating bacteria at the pet store. The second theory could be tested simply by filling a tub with water, adding one drop of motor oil and one drop of dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent, and checking to see if the oil bonds to the dispersant and sinks to the bottom.

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