(Credit: Texas A&M-University Corpus Christi, Sandra Arismendez.)
According to a recent report NOAA claims that deep-sea soft sediment ecosystem in the immediate area of the 2010’s Deepwater Horizon blowout and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may take decades to recover from the spill’s impacts.
The paper is the first to give comprehensive results of the spill’s effect on deepwater communities at the base of the Gulf’s food chain, in its softbottom muddy habitats, specifically looking at biological composition at the spill same location.
“As the principal investigators… We have developed an innovative approach to combine tried and true classical statistical techniques with state of the art mapping technologies to map the oil spill.” said Dr. Paul Montagna of Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. “Normally, when we investigate offshore drilling sites, we find pollution within 300 to 600 yards from the site. This time it was nearly two miles from the wellhead, with identifiable impacts more than ten miles away.”
According to this update from NOAA the oil spill and plume covered almost 360 square miles with the most severe reduction of biological abundance and biodiversity impacting an area about 9 square miles around the wellhead, and moderate effects seen 57 square miles around the wellhead.
“The effect on bottom of the vast underwater plume is something, which until now, no one was able to map” said Montagna. “This study shows the devastating effect the spill had on the sea floor itself, and demonstrates the damage to important natural resources.”
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