The oil spill effects everyone dramatically. I don’t think any certain party suffers more than the other. Oysters, in addition to sperm whales, dolphins, shrimp, endangered sharks, manatees, crabs in addition to the fisherman and families in Louisiana are all being affected.
It is probably impossible to confirm what organisms are affected the MOST by oil spills, but oil spills certainly do affect oysters and humans who rely on them as a product. Oysters are filter feeders, which means they filter water and draw nutrients and “food” from sea water. Consequently, they also filter contaminants from the water into their systems. A paper published by scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in 1970 reported on oysters in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts that contained a higher number of toxic hydrocarbons than oysters located outside the area where an oil spill occurred. They collected data on the oysters two months after the oil spill took place. The presence of a high number of hydrocarbons in oysters suggests they were not able to detoxify the contaminants that they allowed into their systems while filter-feeding. While this may not kill the oyster, it does concentrate a toxic substance (hydrocarbons from oil) at the bottom of the food chain. This means that the toxic substances will be transferred to predators of the oyster; anything from fish, to birds, to humans.
Not only do oil spills affect the oysters themselves, but the oyster shuckers of Louisiana are also taking a hit. A New York Times article from July 8, 2010 titled “Serving Gulf Seafood, and Keeping the Faith” examines a seasoned oyster shucker in Louisiana who must convince his customers to order oysters after a patron asks “Now these ain’t tainted with BP oil, huh?”
So, while we cannot necessarily prove that oysters are affected the MOST by oil spills, they can take up oil contaminates, and this can affect many other organisms including humans.
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