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The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Essay

1461 words - 6 pages

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, located in the Gulf of Mexico exploded killing 11 workers and injuring 17. The oil rig sank a day-and-a-half later. The spill was referred to as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, BP oil spill, Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and BP oil disaster. It was first said that little oil had actually leaked into the ocean but a little over a month later the estimate was 12,000-19,000 barrels of crude oil being leaked per day. Many attempts were made to stop the leak but all failed until they capped the leak on July 15, 2010, and on September 19 the federal government declared the well “effectively dead.” In the three months that it took to finally put a stop the leak, 4.9 million barrels of oil were released into the ocean. The spill caused considerable damage to marine and wildlife habitats and the Gulf’s fishing and tourism industries. The White House energy advisor, Carol Browner, goes as far to say that the Deepwater oil spill is the “worst environmental disaster the US has faced.”

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has had an extremely negative effect on the surrounding wildlife and ecosystem. The oil spread across the gulf contaminating any living organism that came into direct or indirect contact with it. The oil cuts off the ability of oxygen from the air to move into the water which directly harms fish and other marine wildlife that require that oxygen. The dispersant that the BP is using to try and break up the oil moves the slick into the entire water column which contaminates the ocean floor which would most likely not have seen any damage if it wasn’t for the use of these dispersants. More than 400 species that live in the Gulf Islands and marshlands are at risk and as of November 2 six-thousand-eight-hundred-fourteen dead animals have been collected. The oil can affect the natural behavior of the animals such as displacement of animals from prime habitat, disruption of social structure, changing prey availability, foraging distribution and or patterns, changing reproductive behavior, and changing movement patterns or migration. The oil also has a physical and physiological effect including irritation, inflammation, or necrosis of the skin, chemical burns, ingestion of oil/dispersants can lead to inflammation, ulcers, bleeding, as well as possible damage to liver, kidneys, and brain tissue. It can also cause disfunction of the immune and reproductive system. The wildlife can become physiologically stressed, their physical condition will ultimately decline, and some may even die. The oil spill has additionally had an extensive effect on the ecosystem as a whole. An ecosystem can be defined as a biological environment consisting of all the organism living in a particular area, as well as the non-living physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact. Experts predict that the ecosystem could require years or even decades to fully recover since there is a chance of...

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