"BP Shrimp (Petromutatus texana)"~Copper Weathervane~

"BP Shrimp (Petromutatus texana)"

The BP Shrimp, Petromutatus texana, also known as Octane Crab; Texas Mudbug; and Refinery Crawdad. One of the more common hydrocarbonivorous or oil-eating petromutants of the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast.

Discovered by two boys fishing on a beach in Galveston, Texas, three years after the infamous BP oil spill, these petromutants lack a central nervous system. They are eyeless but occasionally exhibit a disembodied eye near the anterior pincher. They prefer an environment rich in petroleum but they also do well in benzene or toluene if water temperature is above 86F. When xylene or toluene is scarce, these petromutants can be coaxed--with a little time and patience--into feeding exclusively on benzene. Cyclohexane, isobutylene, and methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) are released as metabolic byproducts through a rudimentary sludge pouch. Flaring of excess gas occurs through a primitive exhaust port or flaring tube located at the lower anterior portion of the sludge pouch and aids this creature in propulsion. The sludge pouch is rich in aromatic olefins that are prized by the perfume and cosmetics industries--an economic replacement for the extinct whale and ambergris.

Like all members of the Petromutatus genus, this species is a voracious feeder, and large individuals can consume 5 to 10 barrels of oil per day (bopd). These petromutants have allowed oil spills to become profitable ventures: they not only clean up contaminated sites but consume and refine the oil--a win-win for industry. The skins of these creatures are rich in hydrocarbons and exhibit a rainbow sheen similar to oil on water; they are prized in the upscale shoe and purse industry for their beauty and durability, and require no polishes or preservatives.

Thought to be a remnant species of the extinct crawfish, shrimp, or perhaps a crab or fish, this is one of several economically important petromutant species and BP Shrimp are often raised on commercial "shrimp farms" adjacent to refineries. Louisiana oilfield workers refer to this petrol-based creature as Cajun Can Opener or Barrelmaster because of its ability to puncture and tear open barrels of oil.

Replicas of this species are popular in Gulf Coast novelty shops and the meat--sold in Cajun restaurants as "The BP Special"--is described as similar to shrimp with delicate hints of diesel fuel. Petrochemical refineries "employ" these organisms by introducing them in tank farms and upstream processes to digest and blend hydrocarbons. Petrochemical engineers sometimes call these organisms MTBE Dragons or Blending Dragons because of their dragon-like appearance and their ability to swim about and convert oil to MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether), a valuable gasoline additive that boosts octane.

Petromutatus texana was recently designated the official State Petromutant of Texas. It is one of the most popular game mutants, offering Gulf Coast anglers a challenging alternative to the extinct game fishes such as mackerel, tuna, and wahoo. The patent on this petromutant is owned by Dow Chemical USA, and its proprietary applications are licensed in refineries worldwide.

(Notes: The first installment in my MutaGenesis--A Field Guide to the Petromutants of Texas series featuring hypothetical "Petromutants" of the future, based on petrochemical mutations. My scientific, satirical and artistic indictment of the current state of the environment, illustrated with original one-off copper weathervanes.

Copper weathervane, 30" length; copper/silver alloy. Artist's collection, NFS)

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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