Five Years Later: The Effects Of The Oil Spill

The five year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is less than a month away. Our beaches along the Gulf Coast are clean, but it’s estimated some four to 10 percent of the oil is still on the bottom of the Gulf.

(From / by Matt Barrentine, FOX10 Storm Tracker) — Figuring out how that continues to effect the Gulf and the animals in it is a complex problem being tackled by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative and scientists like Dr. Steve Murawski from the University of South Florida.

Dr. Murawski told us, “We’ve seen a number of effects like reductions in growth of some of the reef fish. We’ve seen changes in the reef fish community dynamics which are hard to figure out if they’re an effect of the spill.”

Nature’s Resiliency

Close to shore, Dr. Ken Heck from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab has done studies on the small fish who grow up in our marshes and estuaries. So far, his findings contain some optimism for nature’s resiliency. Of twenty species studied none showed a decline and twelve have seen an increase.

“Really what we’ve found is that there are not many significant effects on these species including the ones people care the most about; the snappers, the speckled trout, the groupers, those kind of things… That’s really pretty good news,” Dr. Heck told us.

Discovering the Unknown

Doing research farther offshore into the deep water effects of the oil spill has had side benefits. Parts of the Gulf have been put under a microscope that have never been studied before. Dr. Tracy Sutton, with Nova University said it’s been exciting research.

“ Mostly what we’ve found is that the Gulf of Mexico is extremely diverse in terms of what lives deep. So we’re actually coming up with a lot of new discoveries,” Sutton said. “ Quite a few new species, some of them are fairly exotic looking; like angler fish and dragon fish. So were still finding new things in our new samples and we’ve been analyzing them for about four years.”

Studies will continue

The bottom line according to the research presented Wednesday is that the marine life in the Gulf appears to be doing well five years later, but this isn’t done yet… research through the Gulf of Mexico initiative is funded for another five years so they’ll keep digging for any long-term effects.

Read the full article on the Fox10TV website.

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