So now it looks like the Deepwater Horizon oil spill did, indeed, contaminate the food chain:
The study, “Macondo-1 well oil-derived polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in mesozooplankton from the northern Gulf of Mexico,” found that oil has contaminated zooplankton, one of the first links in the oceanic food chain.
“Traces of oil in the zooplankton prove that they had contact with the oil and the likelihood that oil compounds may be working their way up the food chain,” Dr. Michael Roman of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science said in a statement accompanying the study.
Baby fish and shrimp feed on the tiny, drifting zooplankton, and then introduce contamination and pollution to the larger sea creatures in the food web.
Those larger creatures also include us, let me point out. Anything that eats shrimp is at risk of getting contaminated. And here we are nearly two years after the fact, and I’m sure a lot of people feel like everything is fine, go ahead and tuck into that shrimp special at your favorite local restaurant. Freedom! But two years is not nearly long enough for any of this stuff to be cleansed from the ecosystem.
I bring this up because I’ve been having a long-running battle with the seafood guys at Whole Foods about this. First, let me say: I rarely eat shellfish anymore because well, they’re seabugs, y’all! That lobster is just a giant cockroach! But Mr. Beale likes it and so I will occasionally cook shrimp for him, and sometimes I can forget crabs are big sea-spiders, if they’re chopped up in a crab cake and I don’t have to see the legs.
But ever since the BP oil spill I have avoided Gulf shrimp, and no amount of “oh you’re just being silly” cajoling will get me to change my mind, because of this:
This is some gross orange-y gook that I often find when I clean Gulf shrimp and only Gulf shrimp. It looks just like Corexit and is found along the “mud line.” It also discolors the meat around it, and sometimes even a toughens the texture.
Now usually on the rare occasion that I buy shrimp I ask where the shrimp is from and if I’m lucky I can get shrimp from Savannah. Thanks to the USDA’s COOL laws, the store has to tell you where your food is from, and I am eternally grateful for this information (don’t get me started on grapes from Chile, people. That’s a whole ‘nother blog post). But on Monday all Whole Foods had was Gulf shrimp and once again I got into an argument with the guy about what that orange gook is. I even showed him the picture (taken the last time I made the mistake of buying Gulf shrimp), at which point he told me I was being silly and that these were teeny tiny eggs.
That is the second time someone has told me that these are shrimp eggs. Okay look, I know it’s been a few decades since I took biology class and I’m definitely not a fisheries biologist, but the mud line is not where one finds shrimp eggs. The mud line is the shrimp’s GI tract. That “mud” is shrimp shit. Shrimp do not shit out their eggs. If you’re a female shrimp and you have eggs, they are on the other side of your body, where the legs are. In fact, those little tiny legs are called “swimmerets” and are there so females can hold their eggs.
So people, if anyone tells you that the orange gook in your shrimp are eggs, please show them this picture and ask them how it’s possible, biologically speaking, for eggs to be where feces is. You can also let them that they are full of shit, if you wish. Just like your shrimp.
If you’re a fisheries biologist and can offer me any more insight on what this orange gook is, please weigh in. Until then, I’m going to assume this is some kind of oil-spill related contaminant, because I never saw it before the Deepwater Horizon disaster and I’ve never seen it in any kind of shrimp besides those from the Gulf. And let me be clear: before I started boycotting Florida for being racist fucktards, we used to go to the beach every summer and buy Gulf shrimp from those little refrigerated shrimp stands on the beach. I’ve cleaned a lot of shrimp in my day. But now Gulf shrimp seems to have orange slime in it and I ain’t eating it.