The BP oil spill dumped a reported 210 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. In all, 16,000 miles of coastline across Louisiana, Texas, Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi were impacted. Not surprisingly, five years later the Gulf has yet to recover and a new report from the National Wildlife Federation found that 20 species of animals are still suffering in the aftermath.
While the oil giant claims that the Gulf has returned to normal after the BP oil spill, a new report disputes their claims. In fact, a range of animal species including dolphins, sea turtles, brown pelicans, white pelicans, mahi mahi, Gulf killifish, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, spotted sea trout, and sperm whales are still feeling the repercussions.
“Given the significant quantity of oil remaining on the floor of the Gulf and the unprecedented large-scale use of dispersal during the spill, it will be years or even decades before the full impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster is known,” the report said. “It is clear that robust scientific monitoring of the Gulf ecosystem and its wildlife populations must continue — and that restoration of degraded ecosystems should begin as soon as possible.”
The report found that 12 percent of brown pelicans along with 32 percent of laughing gulls are gone. According to the report, “oil and dispersant compounds have been found in the eggs of white pelicans nesting in three states— Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois.”
Not to mention, the mysterious and continuing deaths of bottlenose dolphins that have also been linked to the spill. Between 27,000 and 65,000 sea turtles are thought to have died as a result of the spill and today their nests are still less prevalent in the Gulf.
Additionally, commercial crabbers in multiple locations have reported losses in the blue crab populations. The populations were about 20 percent lower between 2010 and 2014 than they were a decade ago. And of the populations that do survive, there have been reports of lesions and deformities on blue crabs and other crustaceans because the crabs are sensitive to even low levels of oil and dispersants found in the Gulf.
At the same time, BP is currently arguing in court that additional fines over $2.7 billion would put their business at risk. Its also said that the Gulf has returned to “baseline conditions.” But this seems unlikely to be true considering that scientists recently discovered a “1,235 bathtub ring of oil” on the ocean floor. What’s more, oil dispersants used to clean up the spill could be carcinogenic to humans and animals alike.
While the spill was nearly five years ago, it’s likely that the Gulf will continue to feel the repercussions even decades into the future. Especially considering the large swath of ecosystem impacted by the massive amounts of poisonous oil found in the Gulf.
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Image of a sad sea turtle on the shore from Shuttershock