State scientists have begun collecting fish and shellfish samples just in case the Gulf of Mexico oil spill reaches North Carolina.
Biologists with the Division of Marine Fisheries say the fish, shrimp and crabs from different areas to be used as a baseline for later comparisons. Oysters and clams are also being collected by Division of Environmental Health specialists.
The state says oil contains hydrocarbons that can accumulate in seafood at levels that can cause illness. Exposure to high concentrations of the toxins for fish or shellfish can reduce their growth and reproduction, affecting populations. They warn, depending on the concentration of oil, these effects can last for many years.