Earth Day spotlight: A survey of the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

“Today (April 22nd) is Earth Day, and marks the 45th anniversary of what many credit with launching the modern environmental movement in the U.S. in 1970. The idea for Earth Day apparently came to the founder, Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after he witnessed the devastating effects of the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara.

Sadly, this week also marks another anniversary of arguably the worst oil spill in U.S history. Five years ago, on April 20, 2010, an explosion occurred on board the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, killing 11 workers. The world watched with increasing desperation as over 200 million gallons of oil spread from the undersea geyser across the Gulf of Mexico1.

Needless to say, the immediate impact on the surrounding ecosystems was dire: 675 kilometres of Louisiana marsh were oiled2, with estimated death tolls of 6,104 birds, 609 sea turtles, and 100 mammals just five months later1.

So the question now is how are we doing five years later?”

——-

In honor of Earth Day, co-blogger Kate Whittington and I have explored the status of the ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.  Read more at our Eyes on Environment blog on Nature‘s Scitable Network to find out how species are recovering or suffering and what we’re doing to prevent another disaster!

References

1) LaJeunesse, S. “Biologist investigates lasting ecological impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil spillPenn State News. July 10, 2013

2)

Cornwall W (2015). Deepwater Horizon: after the oil. Science (New York, N.Y.), 348 (6230) PMID: 25838362

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