While the true extent of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill was not known for about 4 years, as Al Jazeera notes in the video above, the repercussions of BP's 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico may become apparent more quickly.
Discovering eyeless shrimp, lesioned fish and other mutated and underdeveloped seafood, fisherman in the Gulf are pointing fingers at the BP spill. Biologist Dr. Darryl Felder told the news agency that Gulf seafood populations are dropping at alarming rates and that species richness is "diminished."
The Gulf Restoration Network's Scott Eust explained the bizarre shrimp deformities. "We have some evidence of deformed shrimp, which is another developmental impact. So, that shrimp's grandmother was exposed to oil while the mother was developing, but it's the grandchild of the shrimp that was exposed grows up with no eyes."
Al Jazeera reports that both the government and BP maintain that Gulf seafood is safe. BP released a statement last week, saying, "Seafood from the Gulf of Mexico is among the most tested in the world, and according to the FDA and NOAA, it is as safe now as it was before the accident."
A study published last October in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that the FDA allowed "up to 10,000 times too much contamination" and didn't identify the risks to children and pregnant women posed by contaminated seafood. Additionally, the study charged that the FDA's "scientific standards [in 2010] were less stringent" than after the Exxon Valdez spill, reported OnEarth.
Government testing standards were questioned months after the spill. In December 2010, a toxicologist with a team challenging the FDA's seafood testing said, the "FDA simply overlooked an important aspect of safety in their protocol," reported MSNBC.
Despite sales dropping precipitously following the spill, the Gulf's seafood industry was given a boost after the government's Defense Commissary Agency began selling Gulf seafood products on 72 East Coast military bases in early 2011, reported AP.