Gulf Coast Oil Spill: An Update
In the weeks since I first wrote about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the situation seems to have gone from bad to worse. While Seacology has no projects in the Gulf, there are many islands in the region, and many more marine and costal wildlife and ecosystems similar to those Seacology protects in other areas of the world.
The disaster is officially the worst oil spill in US history, spewing 140 million gallons (and counting!) of oil into the Gulf. To get an idea of how massive it really is, visit this site and see how large the spill would be if it was in your neighborhood.
Though BP has tried everything from a top hat to diamond saws to stop the spill, it continues to gush. A containment cap is now collecting some of the oil, and BP hopes to have a permanent cap in place by August, though some believe it may take much longer.
Meanwhile, the Atlantic hurricane season started on a gloomy note, with Hurricane Alex disrupting the cleanup process in the gulf. The oil is now affecting even Florida's coast, with tar appearing all over its beaches.
What effect is the spill having on wildlife and the gulf's ecosystems? Many species are being affected, from recently endangered pelicans to threatened whale sharks to sea turtles being burned alive, and everything in between. Wetlands make up much of the coastal areas around the gulf. These inherently fragile ecosystems are nurseries for many small fish and other sea life, and could be ruined by the oil. Nearby, another sensitive ecosystem is found in Florida's coral reefs, which may also be harmed by the spill.
Another environmental concern is the effect the chemical dispersants being used by BP will have on the region's wildlife. Since little is known about the dispersants, it is yet to be seen whether they will do more harm or good to the spill.
As the spill continues to flow, politicians are debating the future of oil drilling, and the nation wonders about the ultimate aftermath of the disaster. Only time will tell.
Image from Flickr