Gulf Coast Oil Spill Threatens Fragile Ecosystem
A yet to be controlled oil spill near the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, is turning out to be one of the nation's biggest oil-related catastrophe, threatening not only some of North America's most endangered wildlife, but also, the livelihood of thousands of fishermen.
The spill began on April 20th, when an offshore oil rig exploded and ruptured an underwater oil well. Since then, almost 200,000 gallons of oil has been leaking into the ocean every day. The worst part is, authorities still have no idea how to repair it.
As of April 30th, the oil spill, which is currently sitting about 20 miles off the coast of Louisiana, had grown to a 3,850 mile blob, about the size of Puerto Rico. The spill jeopardizes the life of ocean creatures like the endangered Atlantic Blue Fin, as well as, other fish like the speckled trout, flounder and shrimp.
To make matters worse, it has occurred in the vicinity of over 40% of the country's wetlands, home to birds like the wintering waterfowl and other endangered shore birds and mammals.
If that isn't bad enough, thanks to the ever increasing size and ocean waves, the spill is spreading to neighboring states like Florida, where it will impact beach-nesting birds like the black-necked stilt and tern.
As a last straw, even the weather is not cooperating - so far the oil slick has been kept away from the coastline, but on Saturday morning, a strong southerly wind started to nudge it closer to Louisiana's shore and, a storm forecast for the next few days, can only make things worse.
Also, since Louisiana is the country's leading provider of shrimp, crab, crawfish and oysters, a lot of people are worried about their livelihood, which depends on the fishing industry - All in all, a very sad situation!
British Petroleum, the company responsible for the rig that blew up, is trying everything it can, to contain the spill. Their first priority is to stem the flow. However, this has been almost impossible, thanks to the turbulent and choppy seas, which has also made skimming the oil off the surface, almost impossible.
They are also immersing the area with chemicals that break up oil before it reaches the surface, a technique, which has been successful in shallow oil spills. The company is keeping its fingers crossed that it will be as effective in the deep ocean!
Hopefully, they will be able to come up with a solution soon that will minimize the damage to our wildlife and save the livelihood of the poor fishermen!
sources: news.yahoo.com,aboutmyplanet.com, marketwatch.com pbs.org