Conservation Roundup: Oil Spills, Playa Protection, Fighting Carp Invasion

Worrying New Signs of BP's Oil in Gulf

When the Deepwater Horizon blew April 2010, oil spill experts said it was a disaster that will keep on giving for years to come, and the evidence of that truth is piling up.

A study released in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science last week revealed that petroleum toxins from Deepwater Horizon have altered the cellular functions of the Gulf killifish, or cocahoe. This wetlands minnow is a prime a food source for valuable sports species such as redfish, speckled trout, flounder and drum. The impacts observed are predictive of disruption in reproduction and larvae survival, the authors reported. The complete study can be found here.

One day later, the U.S. Coast Guard acknowledged that oil sheens spotted near the site of the Deepwater Horizon blow-out may be coming from the well that was supposedly capped a year ago.

Anglers and environmental groups have been reporting sheens in the area for months, but authorities downplayed their relevance until samples analyzed by oil experts at Louisiana State University confirmed they were coming from the Macondo well.

Mapping the Playas

Playas are shallow, clay-bottomed depressions in the Great Plains that serve as seasonal wetlands to waterfowl and numerous other birds and wildlife. They play a major role in recharging the Oglala Aquifer, a main source of fresh water for humans and critters in the nation's mid-section. Playas are one of the most threatened wildlife habitats on the continent. The Playa Lakes Joint Venture, a partnership of public and private conservation organizations working to protects playas has found one of its most challenging missions: helping sportsmen and residents of the region to know where their playas are.

Help is now available with the PLJV play lakes county maps for six states.

States Demand Action on Asian Carp

Midwestern sportsmen fighting to spreading invasion of Asian carp are getting some powerful political help: The Attorneys General of 17 states have demanded federal help to choke off the spread of the invasive species that has proven deadly to native fish and fishermen.