OIL ON THE SEA FLOOR
There are some obvious ways to predict what could happen to sea life and wildlife after a spill, according to said Roger Zimmerman, laboratory director of the National Marine Fisheries Service, at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center in Galveston, Texas.
“For instance, if some habitats are, I just offer this as an example: If some wetland habitats or marsh habitats are degraded or even eliminated or destroyed by oil that comes ashore in an estuary, that could be an advance indication that habitat is degraded. The animals that live in it could certainly be degraded,” he said.
For the most part, Bay County residents have been lucky because oil has not washed up on local beaches in any great size. There have been tar balls, but there have not been waves of crude oil.
However, the findings of Samantha Joye may mean that large impacts are coming for fishermen, restaurant owners and other workers who depend on gulf seafood for their livelihoods.
Joye, a professor of Marine Sciences with the University of Georgia, and her team have found large underwater plumes of oil and oil that has settled onto the sea floor. Joye could not be reached for comment last week, but to Zimmerman the findings are another indication that more research needs to be done. Researchers need to know how much oil there is, where it is and make certain that it is not natural seepage but did in fact come from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
“We can’t just say, ‘It’s all done, the well is sealed up and we all go home,’ ” Zimmerman said.
The oil is on the sea floor because BP used chemical dispersants, said Marco Kaltofen, a researcher with the civil and environmental engineering department at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. Kaltofen said he is also acting as a consultant for some of the attorneys involved in the oil disaster.
Which means that humans won’t be bothered with it, won’t smell it or see it, but the sea life will have to live with it.
“It comes at a cost,” Kaltofen said. The oil dissolves into the water and the seabed but it remains there, infecting the sea life for a very long time, he added.
Chanton agreed, saying oil on the sea floor is a sign of very bad things. Read more…