Since the massive oil spill rocked the Gulf of Mexico this past spring and summer, there have been a plethora of controversies surrounding the spill. While legal battles continue with British Petroleum (BP), the company responsible, it has been announced that the area will be “well” by the year 2012. However, many scientists strongly disagree with this claim and other claims about the rate of oil dispersal.
Various scientists, including those working for BP and the U.S. government, have stated that there is little oil remaining in the area and major problems were averted. However, recent studies have shown that not only is oil still present in the region, it is still causing havoc on the ecosystem.
One of the most recent studies was performed by University of Georgia marine scientist Samantha Joye, who presented her findings at the recent conference of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Joye believes major damage continues to occur on the Gulf of Mexico floor, where oil is said to still be present.
Joye stated: “I’ve been to the bottom. I’ve seen what it looks like with my own eyes. It’s not going to be fine by 2012. You see what the bottom looks like, you have a different opinion.” According to Joye’s study, which has included covering some 2,600 miles of the Gulf floor, hundreds of photos and 250 samples, oil did not disperse as thoroughly as many have claimed and microbes were not as proficient in removing oil as many have calculated either.
Joye stated: “Magic microbes consumed maybe ten percent of the total discharge, the rest of it we don’t know.” “There’s some sort of bottleneck we have yet to identify for why this stuff doesn’t seem to be degrading.” The oil discovered on the sea floor was confirmed through chemical fingerprinting to be BP oil.
The ecosystem is still in danger from the oil, according to the study. Dead and dying crabs, brittle stars and tube worms were all found. Some tube worms were filled with oil and subsequently suffocated from the oil coverage. The chief of the NOAA, Jane Lubchenco, stated: “Even though the oil degraded relatively rapidly and is now mostly but not all gone, damage done to a variety of species may not become obvious for years to come.”
In addition to above, Joye and her team also found evidence from when oil was burned in the region as well. Soot was found on the sea floor alongside the oil which has not broken down. Joye and her team are also concerned with methane levels in the region. Complete studies from Joye and her team’s work are expected to be published in the near future.