The oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico elicits the potential of negative impacts to marine and wildlife of animals in the surrounding environment. This is one of the biggest spills that have occurred in human history. Not only is the wildlife affected, but plants and other living organisms in the environment are also adversely affected. Due to these effects, an imbalance in the ecosystem, especially about the delicate marine ecosystem is large disrupted.
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This article explores the environment as impacted by the recent oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico elaborating on the implications of the oil spills to the habitat of the Deep Water Horizon including the marine birds, marine mammals, and ocean turtles among other reptiles, fish and wildlife refuges.
During the time of the BP accident, over eight thousand organisms were affected. In actuality, the effects of approximately two million oil gallons of oil and chemical dispersants have been short term with long terms effects insurmountable. Long-term effects of the oil spills could be experienced by human beings and other animals so many years in the future. However, scientists could devise ways of dealing with the anticipated negative effects of the oil spill in the future.
The chemical compounds released to the environment shortly affected birds. These birds could not regulate their body temperature as the environment normally required. Also, some sea reptiles, including sea turtles, were covered with oil, which resulted in deaths due to suffocation.
Lastly, the deep-sea corals were adversely impacted as many died while others are still dying in the deep sea (Thurman and McWhorter 23). Thus, both man and animals will be exposed to the chemicals contained in oil for a very long period. Some of the effects that could be caused by the chemicals might affect the genes and result in genetic disorders.
The deposits are expected to last and persist for years (Thurman and McWhorter 20). A study on the health effect of fish, particularly dolphins in areas that were heavily oiled, such as the Louisiana coast, in Barataria Bay, over 50% of the dolphins investigated were critically ill, with about 17% having a very poor prognosis to survival. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico heightened the adversity affecting this threatened Kemp turtle species where more than 500 sea turtles are found stranded (Incardona et al. 1510).
The increased deaths of marine animals are causing an ecosystem balance instability resulting in an extrapolation of imbalance in the marine food web. The liberated oil toxicity educed immediate adversity to eggs and larval organisms of many species, which lowered the numbers or even wiped out the entire age group of the affected organisms. This will be elicited in the coming years. Lastly, there is a decline in the populations of fish and other wildlife in the vicinity of the disaster region.
This population fluctuation is expected to continue for years to come based on the effects of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil disaster, where there was a collapse of the herring population (Proctor, Flather and Elliott 535). In conclusion, the marine life has been and is continually experiencing the effects of the Gulf oil disaster years after the accident. Mitigating protocols need to be designed to facilitate a reduction in the duration of these adverse effects on the ocean environment will be felt.
Incardona, John, Luke Gardner, Tiffany Linbo, Tanya Brown, Andrew Esbaugh, Edward Mager, John Stieglitz et al. “Deepwater Horizon crude oil impacts the developing hearts of large predatory pelagic fish.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111.15 (2014): 1510-1518. Print.
Proctor, Roger, Roger Flather, and Alan Elliott. “Modelling tides and surface drift in the Arabian Gulf—application to the Gulf oil spill.” Continental Shelf Research 14.5 (1994): 531-545. Print.
Thurman, Harold, and James McWhorter. Introduction to oceanography. Upper Saddle River: NJ: 2011. Print.