For anyone who might be concerned about the effects of BP oil on Louisiana seafood and needs reassurance that “oil will be well,” you just need to sit back, relax, and watch this 1960 newsreel of “progress at work” titled Lifeline to an Oyster, “presented as a public information service by the American Petroleum Institute.” (Note that “the trouble” is said to have started when the oystermen “claimed” that the oysters were being killed off by oil production. No complaints = no trouble?)

“The trouble started down in Louisiana on the Gulf of Mexico when the Louisiana oyster fishermen claimed that oil production was killing off the local oyster population. The oil companies didn’t agree, but they agreed to look into the matter. . . .

“In the research laboratory, every type of condition is created for the ‘oyster patients.’ A blanket of crude oil is poured directly on the water. Water is jetted through oil for six months. Oil-drilling mud was emptied into the water. . . .

“Every possibility was explored. After years of study and progress, the results were in: The test oysters showed no ill effects from oil, even under conditions which far exceeded those ever present in oil production. As a matter of fact, the test oysters were so happy they brought forth new generations to share their luck. They never had it so good.”

Well then, if this wasn’t killing the oysters, what was?

“The most vicious villain of the lot was a . . . species of fungus that’s bent on destroying the Loiusiana oyster. It was further found that natural changes in the Gulf Coast, and man-made improvements such as levees, together with climatic changes were seriously affecting the proper mixture of fresh and salt water in the oyster bedding grounds.”

These major conclusions of the oyster research program are cheerfully turned over to the oyster industry. Why, you may ask, why were the results of $2 million worth of research given to the oyster industry? It’s because oil companies believe that maintaining good neighbors is just good business. As long as business and industry are free to lend a helping hand to each other, then everyone benefits.”

Hands are shaken at the end, but no one is seen eating the test oysters.

It’s worth watching just for the corny, happy music alone. If you’re down, it’ll bring you back up, at least up to the surface. And you know what’s on the surface.


Thanks for this discovery to Jonathan Hiskes at Grist.org (a sharp enviro blog we first learned about through Bill Moyers).