BEACON TRANSCRIPT – Nearly 6 years have passed since the Deepwater Horizon sank in the Gulf of Mexico. The nautical incident not only reft R&B Falcon of several million dollars but also disturbed the local biota. The oil spill threatened many species of marine critters, but it seems that some are more resilient than other. A new study shows that phytoplankton thrives on oil.
According to the estimates, the sunken ship discharged a total amount of 4.9 million barrels over a 780.000 cubic meter area, refting the oil company of approximately 400 million dollars. The effects proved to be more disastrous for the indigenous marine species.
Wildlife reports from 2013 have stressed out the fact that due to the oil discharge, dolphins, and especially infant dolphins were dying at a much faster rate. The massive oil spill also impacted the tuna and the amberjack culture.
Since the incident, many efforts have been made in order to contain the oil discharge and to minimize the damaging effects of the biota. Last year, the Government approved the use of oil dispersants, substances capable of neutralizing the oil in the water.
Although the specialists have predicted that the dispersant will be capable of containing the oil spill, it seems that the solution has the opposite effect. Instead of neutralizing the oil spill, the dispersant made the oil spread onto a much larger area. Also, the dispersant only managed to neutralize only 21 percent of the oil. After the dispersant was used, the area of the spill increased by 49 percent, according to recent estimates.
Besides the massive quantity of oil originating from the 2010 incident, there are also natural oil discharges. Scientists have estimated that annually over 600.000 barrels of oil are released into the water.
The impact of the oil spill is tremendous. As stated, since the incident occurred, many species of marine critters have been affected by the floating patches of oil. But it seems some are more resilient than others.
An oceanographer working at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, by the name of Ajit Subramaniam, has discovered that phytoplankton thrives on oil. While studying the effects of the oil discharge on the biota, the scientist observed that phytoplankton thrives on natural oil seep. Thus, critters amassed around natural oil seeps are 50 percent more productive than those located in clear waters
The scientists noted that these marine critters managed to somehow adapt to the new conditions. However, the oil concentration in the observation area was small, meaning that if the phytoplankton survived in low concentration area, no one can say for certain what will happen if the concentration would suddenly increase.