Friday, July 2, 2010

The Blackwater

Excerps from articles related to the Mexican Gulf oil spill.

The hydrocarbons and heavy metals from the oil will move from the mollusks throughout the food chain. Hydrocarbons, which can be carcinogenic, will eventually break down, but no one knows how long the heavy metals will remain in the marine food-chain.

"There are... hundreds of shorebirds and marine mammals that are acutely sensitive to oil. You could potentially lose whole species, have extinction events. Brown pelicans were just taken off the endangered species list. On this threshold, a big dieback and mortality event, they would be pushed back into a situation where they could be endangered,".
- Assistant Professor Michael Blum of Tulane University's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology-

"The undersea oil poses a direct threat to large marine wildlife, such as fish, sharks and cetaceans, and also to the tiny stuff, including zooplankton, shrimp, corals, crabs and worms. By endangering these latter populations, the foundation of the marine food chain, the oil could have chronic long-term effects on the wider Gulf ecosystem, including the industries -- more shrimp and oysters come from the Gulf than anywhere else in the world -- that rely on them."
- NOAA researcher Samantha Joye-

Beyond all these undersea environmental effects, the oil is also starting to wash up into coastal wetlands already besieged by overdevelopment, pollution and the lingering effects of Hurricane Katrina. If there can be any silver lining to this catastrophe, it may be that it is the wake-up call we've needed to start moving more rapidly away from fossil fuels to a clean, renewable energy future. For starters, we can all begin to reduce our own oil consumption and opt for clean and green energy sources whenever possible.

Under the worst-case scenario, however, the oil spill could fundamentally alter the marine chemistry of the Gulf, making it less hospitable to the life…

"You could end up changing the ecosystem completely,"
- Columbia University marine biologist Andrew Juhl-