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Study: Dispersants Ripped Gulf Food Chain

Louisiana fisherman passes through a patch of oil dispersant off the coast of Louisiana, May 2010.

Louisiana fisherman passes through a patch of oil dispersant off the coast of Louisiana, May 2010.

AP Photo/The Houma Courier, Matt Stamey, File

Dispersants used after BP’s massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may damage the food chain, according to scientists at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and Auburn University.

The study “demonstrates that dispersants cause marked changes in natural microbial communities in the Gulf, which disrupts the flow of energy at the base of the food chain,” the Sea Lab reported at the end of July.

If the dispersants cause an increase in microbes that thrive on dispersed oil, they could disrupt the natural chain from photosynthesis-nurtured phytoplankton to zooplankton to small fish to the big fish that constitute the Gulf fisheries.

Scientists Alice Ortmann, Rob Condon and Anthony Moss conclude that increased shipping and oil drilling make it critical to develop more information about the Gulf food chain.

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