Searching for Lesions in Gulf Fish

Searching for Fish Lesions
Steve Murawski and one of his subjects
TAMPA (2011-7-7) -

Reports about fish with strange lesions have been surfacing from fishermen based in Florida's Panhandle since last year's oil spill. Today, the second of two ships from the University of South Florida will launch a mission to find out why.

Commercial fishermen have been finding lesions resembling ulcers in large numbers of fish - particularly in red snapper - which is found in abundance in the eastern Gulf. But no one is sure why.

Steve Murawski is a biology professor at USF's College of Marine Science.

"Many people have asked if this occurring and is this related to the oil spill," he says. "So our objective is to find out whether the occurrance of these things is unusually high. These things occur in nature at a low rate, so we're trying to figure out is this occurring, and at what level, and is it beyond background?"

Murawski says two fishing boats have been hired out of Madeira Beach and Panama City Beach. The ships will be on alternating 10 day trips to sample the fish population of the Gulf between the Dry Tortugas - off Key West - and Terrebone Bay, Louisiana.

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