Oil-laden debris on beaches and dwindling seafood catches are among the disturbing signs of an ecosystem in crisis four years after BP’s catastrophic 2010 oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, Dahr Jamail reports.
“It’s disturbing what we’re seeing,” commercial oyster fisherman Brad Robin said. “We don’t have any more baby crabs, which is a bad sign. We’re seeing things we’ve never seen before.” According to Robin, whole sectors of the Louisiana oyster harvest areas are “dead or mostly dead.” Louisiana statistics confirm that total seafood catch numbers since 2010 are down.
Biological oceanographer Dr Ed Cake estimates it will take the Gulf decades to recover. “The impacts of the Ixtoc 1 blowout in the Bay of Campeche in 1979 are still being felt,” said Cake, referring to a large oil spill near the Mexican coast, “and there are bays there where the oysters have still not returned. My prediction is we will be dealing with the impacts of this spill for several decades to come and it will outlive me.”
Researchers are detecting oil as far away as Florida’s Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay. The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority observes more than 200 miles of shoreline have “some degree of oiling”, including 14 miles that are moderately or heavily oiled.
The second phase of the federal trial against BP investigates whether the company’s actions during the blowout were sufficient, and will determine how much oil was released. BP is waging a major legal and public relations campaign to limit its liability and downplay continuing ecological impacts caused by the disaster.
Source: Dahr Jamail, “Gulf Ecosystem in Crisis Three Years After BP Spill,” Aljazeera, October 20, 2013, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2013/10/gulf-ecosystem-crisis-after-bp-spill-2013102065313544754.html.
Student Researcher: Kristina Roenbeck (Florida Atlantic University)
Faculty Evaluator: James F. Tracy (Florida Atlantic University)