JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Under a deep blue sky, USM scientists set sail Friday morning to the mouth of the Mississippi Sound for a research journey. They are checking for contaminated water and marine life from the massive BP oil leak.
"We are looking for the presence of different hydrocarbons, toxins, that might be associated," Marine Education Director Chris Snyder said.
Snyder said the tests help calm people's fear about toxic seafood in the gulf.
"We gather the info to help provide to those making decisions, so they can make decision on how to protect their way of life."
As the boat moved closer to the mouth of the Mississippi Sound, Marine biologists began trawling. When the net came up, it brought in dozens of shrimp, crab, and fish.
"This is a hardhead catfish. You can eat them, but they are not nearly as good," one research biologist said.
This kind of testing is done each month to ensure the seafood coming from our waters is clean and safe. But with the threat of oil, biologist Jay Grimes said testing this catch of sea creatures takes on significance. He said, so far, no tainted or toxic marine life has been found in the water, but the threat still looms.
"Of course, none of us want it to make landfall, but it already has in Louisiana. And it will come ashore elsewhere."
A large good percentage of the seafood in the gulf waters is consumed by people all across the United States. USM scientists say that's why they feel it's important to continue testing even after the BP oil leak has stopped.
"The more we do to study a spill, a tragic spill like this one, the better we will be prepared for the next time."
The scientists took a few of the sea creatures caught Friday back to their research labs for more testing.
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