The Gulf of Mexico underwent the greatest ecosystem restoration ever put in place on Earth after the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon oil spill damaged the ocean floor. Scientists are still unsure on what measures they have to take next in order to heal the affected waters.
The ocean floor drops abruptly 25 miles away from Louisiana. On the bottom of the sea, marine life is mysterious and difficult to reach.
In April this year, BP committed itself to pay $20 billion settlement, money which will be used for covering economic and environmental damage. Only $273 million will be dedicated to deep ocean restoration. The program is supposed to go over 15 years.
Scientists do not know yet how they will deal with deep ocean recovery as this has never been tried before.
In 2010, Deepwater Horizon has accidentally spilled oil into the Gulf’s waters. The substance stayed on the surface for months before it dispersed, even if efforts were made to clean it from the waters.
A new study shows the effects of the accidental oil disposal on the creatures living at the bottom of the ocean. Thus, it seems that the remnants of the oil, the black carbon resulted from burning oil slicks and drilling mud waste went down into the waters. All this waste is thought to have also been combined with microscopic algae and other sea debris.
The study confirmed that the origin of the waste can be tracked down to the 2010 New Horizon spill.
Initially, the materials were dispersed in the waters. But scientists have now discovered that the currents and other water movements concentrated again the debris into a singular mass, which is believed to have descended to the bottom of the sea.
The process took place with the help of diatoms, which are microscopic marine plants. The web of diatoms had caught the waste particles and carried with them over the ocean. After the diatoms have died, the mass started to go down into the depths of the sea.
The main danger is that this mass of industrial and sea debris may enter the food web and contaminate the fish and corals living in the deep waters of the Gulf.
Moreover, the findings show that the contamination that took place six years ago may have longer effects than it was thought.
The accidental spill took place from a Shell-operated pipeline that released almost 88,200 gallons of oil into the sea. A part of the oil had been recovered, and no impact on wildlife has been reported so far. Scientists believe that the impact existed, but it was just difficult to observe so far.
Image Source: Flickr
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