Are you like me? Do you not think much about seaweed unless it gets caught in your bathing suit?
My trip with a National Wildlife Federation team to the BP oil spill changed that. I hitched a ride with a Louisiana fishing boat captain on a 10-hour trip across spill-impacted areas.
Here's how our captain showed me what a critical role sargassum, a surface seaweed, plays in the food chain:
We repeated the process several times, pulling up & releasing crabs, shrimp, fish, even a baby octopus no bigger than a walnut.
So what does seaweed have to do with the BP oil spill? The creatures under the surface -- from shrimp to tiny "bait" fish to mahi mahi -- appear to be mistaking rafts of "dispersed" oil for their natural seaweed habitat:
What will be the short-term & long-term impacts on the species & ecosystems that so many depend on, from the seafood industry to seaside hotel owners to wildlife lovers all across over America? I hate to use a cliche, but unfortunately we'll have to wait & see.
But that doesn't mean we have to sit on our hands. The Senate has started a national conversation about what our energy future should look like. Will you join the National Wildlife Federation's call for action?
For all the latest news on how the oil spill is impacting the Gulf Coast's wildlife & to learn how you can help, visit NWF.org/oilspill.