"BP Shark (Petromutatus horridus)" ~Copper Weathervane~

"BP Shark (Petromutatus horridus)"

The BP Shark, Petromutatus horridus, was discovered on a beach near Freeport, Texas, two years after the infamous BP (British Petroleum) oil spill. These petromutants are now abundant in Gulf Coast waters. Like all members of the Petromutatus genus, they feed voraciously on petroleum.

BP Sharks are particularly fond of oil-laden kelp beds, and large individuals can consume up to 5 barrels of oil per day (bopd). They also prey aggressively on other petromutants, particularly species that are high in benzene or methyl tertiary butyl ether, such as BP Shrimp (Petromutatus texana.) Their thick gill plates are lined with primitive lungs and they are adept in water and on beaches where they use their powerful forelegs to come ashore to feast on oil-soaked kelp. Females and smaller specimens travel in schools, while large males are loners. They are pelagic, and specimens tagged by Texas A&M biologists have been found as far away as the southern coast of Sumatra. The world record for this species, caught by a shrimp trawler 86 miles southeast of Houma, Louisiana, was an 11-foot-long specimen that tipped the scales at 1,976 pounds.

These creatures are often introduced en masse at oil spill sites and they are extremely effective at ridding waterways of oil and oil-contaminated kelp beds. They have robust metabolisms and can also feed on heavy-grade crude oil, condensate, tar sands, even refined petroleum products such as benzene, xylene and toluene.

Other common names for this species include Sludge Puppy, Kelp Dragon and BP Bass. Like many petromutants, Petromutatus horridus is a protected species. Because they are useful in oil-spill cleaning operations, Sludge Puppies are of economic importance and they are often raised in commercial "puppy mills"--large containment ponds rich in oil-laden kelp.

It should be noted that these creatures are highly cantankerous and aggressive--particularly during mating season--and beachgoers are urged to exercise extreme caution when they are present.

(Notes: This original one-off weathervane is the third in my MutaGenesis--A Field Guide to the Petromutants of Texas series--a hypothetical look at the future of the environment, featuring "hydrocarbonivorous petromutants," illustrated with original one-off copper weathervanes. Copper weathervane, 26" length; copper/silver-bismuth alloy. In the collection of Michael Ryan, Esq, Cortlandt Manor, New York.)

Texas Original

Designated a Texas Original by The Texas Commission on the Arts

Description text and images Copyright © 2001-2015 David Smith

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