Does poisoning fish help stop oil spills?

Bluefin Tuna (alive)

Here is something that you might not have known if a group of scientists in the USA and Australia had not been funded to find out for you. Tuna don’t thrive in oily water. Amazing.

Poisoning tuna in the name of science

What is even more amazing is that in order to establish this the researchers from the NOAA and Stanford University, helped by researchers at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, deliberately poisoned bluefin tuna with oil to investigate its effect on them.

They couldn’t study real fish during the Deepwater Horizon spill, so they brought the oil to the fish. Samples of crude oil were collected from the damaged riser pipe and surface skimmers. The samples were then transported to the only land-based hatcheries in the world capable of spawning tunas in captivity.

This approach allowed the scientists to design environmentally relevant crude oil exposures for bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna at marine research facilities in Australia and Panama.

Barmy research projects following oil spills

This sort of research reminds me of some of the barmy projects which followed the Exxon Valdez spill, twenty-five years ago. They couldn’t find enough dead seabirds to justify the numbers bandied about, so a team of scientists was funded to investigate where dead seabirds might have been carried by currents.

No prizes for guessing what that research entailed.

How oil spill money should be spent

Call me old-fashioned but I don’t think you need to be a fish to know that an oil spill is not going to be good for tuna. Poisoning more tuna to prove that is going too far. This is another case of scientific institutes benefiting from too much money after an oil spill.

Giving cash to scientists so they can kill more fish to prove the obvious has no benefit for anyone except their academic careers. Cash taken from the polluters would be better spent on prevention of future spills.

The fish would like that better too.

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