Study Suggests Dispersants Acts as Toxic in Deep Water for Oysters

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Scientists observed the effects of oil and dispersant individually and combined on oysters in a controlled environment.

Morris Animal Foundation-funded researchers at the University of Connecticut have undergone extensive study to find the effects of the oil dispersant Corexit 9500 on Oysters. The work was published in the journal Aquatic Toxicology on September 2018, which highlighted the toxic effects of oil dispersant on oysters when it was used to clean up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Around two million gallons of Corexit 9500 was deployed into the Gulf of Mexico to break the oil molecules as Deepwater Horizon oilrig spilled more than 170 million gallons of oil in the Gulf. This kind of dispersants often damages the living species dwelling in the bottom of the ocean.

The researchers aimed to find out the effects of oil and dispersants on oysters in a controlled environment. The experiment was one with oil and dispersants, individually and once combining both oil and dispersant. They observed the feeding rates of oysters, which signify its immune system, ability to destroy bacteria, and overall growth.

They noted that dispersant alone was responsible for being most toxic for oysters and reduced its immune function significantly. Whereas the feeding rates was largely effected due to the combination of oil and dispersant, followed by oil alone.

Dr. Kelly Diehl, Morris Animal Foundation Interim Vice President of Scientific Programs said, “Species are interconnected, and what harms oysters will likely cascade through their ecosystem to the detriment of all.” Moreover, this study will help scientists in taking better steps at times of an environmental and ecological crisis.

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