Some bacteria in the Gulf of Mexico love eating oil as much as they like infecting humans. A close relative of the bacteria infamous for seafood contaminations that often lead to fatal disease, the microbe Vibrio parahaemolyticus, is common in warm coastal waters like the Gulf. The long comma-shaped bacteria, slurped down with raw oysters, brings twisting cramps and nausea to 4,500 American shellfish aficionados each year. But unlike some of its finicky peers, V. parahaemolyticus has a deep thirst for crude oil. "You can feed it exclusively oil," and it will thrive, said Jay Grimes, marine microbiologist at the University of Southern Mississippi. As many have noticed, oil is not in short supply on the Gulf Coast.