Even in trace amounts, oil can warp the spines, disfigure the faces and weaken the hearts of redfish larvae. That makes it difficult for young fish to swim, eat and grow into the 40-pounders that excite anglers.
The first comprehensive study of oil spill effects on the popular sport fish found that “micro-droplets” of oil, such as those that disperse after larger spills, cause skull and jaw deformities and can twist backbones upward, producing fish with awkward J-shaped bodies. Exposure to small amounts of oil reduced the cardiac functions of redfish by 70 percent, according to the study published this month in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
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