Many experts believe the US Gulf Coast has dodged a massive ecological bullet. Cleanup vessels are actually seeing challenging times trying to find skimmable oil, even though hundreds of skimmers are out every day. It is also believed by some that tiny bacteria which thrive in the Gulf’s warm waters may have neutralized much of the danger.
“The vast majority of the oil – about 75 per cent of the 4.9 million barrels of oil spewed by the well – has evaporated or otherwise been contained,” according to a US spokesperson.
Larry Mayer, oceanographer at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, said, “The Gulf Coast has been extremely fortunate in terms of the nature of the winds and the currents. It could have been much, much worse.”
Only about one third of the Gulf Coast shoreline were officially oiled. Approximately 640 miles of shoreline were oiled, compared to 1500 miles, which is how much shoreline the Exxon Valdez affected.
But with about a quarter of the oil still unaccounted for it is quite premature to think the oil spill has been contained or we understand what the true impact of the spill will have on the Gulf into the future.
There is even a possibility of an oil plume under the surface of the water, which could create undersea dead zones.
According to Edward Overton, professor emeritus at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, “About 99 per cent of an oil spill’s environmental impacts are obvious within 2 weeks, but its the other 1 per cent that is worrisome.
As far as species of animals that have had their overall numbers in the Gulf compromised, or worse than that, totally wiped out; we wont know for years to come.