While the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been reporting a mostly clean bill of health for Gulf of Mexico seafood, oysters have been a bivalve of question. While the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been reporting a mostly clean bill of health for Gulf of Mexico seafood, oysters have been a bivalve of question. Two weeks ago the AP quoted marine scientist George Crozier, who directs the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, saying that oysters are the slowest seafood to clear contamination out of their bodies. "I probably would put oysters at the top of the concern list and I don't think there's a close second," Crozier told the AP.
Today, a report commissioned by Louisiana Environmental Action Network, the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper and the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper announces that along the Louisiana coastline, oysters are contaminated with oil.
New Iberia chemist Wilma Subra found oil in oysters she sampled from a reef and an old crab trap. "We found oysters in the shell and they appeared to have accumulated the hydrocarbons," Subra says. "I would think that these are indications that there is contamination in the oysters and additional sampling should be performed."
Meanwhile the AP reports that DHH, which has been testing oysters since the BP rig blew in the Gulf in April, has found no oysters with high levels of hydrocarbon contamination. "We have not found anything at a level of concern," Olivia Watkins, a DHH spokeswoman told the AP. "What we have found is extremely low."
The state is slowly reopening oyster reefs for harvesting. Traditionally fall oysters, which begin to reach their peak in December, return to local menus in September and October.