Even though the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico occurred a few weeks ago, experts are now saying that the environmental effects are more devastating than they thought. Officials say it was difficult to predict the effects because the oil rig exploded beneath the water surface. Most devastating explosions in the past have erupted on the surface of the water. For example, during the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, it was a different type of oil, it exploded on the surface of the water and the ecosystem is profoundly different. Therefore it is difficult to predict what will happen based on past experiences.
Scientists now think that the underwater explosion is actually more detrimental to the environment because crude oil was dispensed all the way from the seafloor to the surface. Clean up crews are working fast to burn off as much oil as they can before it reaches the coast. But that is a near-impossible task when an estimated 3.5 million barrels have poured into the Gulf that now covers a 600 mile area. Scientists say that the oil spill will affect the Gulf ecosystem for decades. Even though we won’t be able to see the oil remnants on the surface, the oil is more dense than the water and will therefore sink to the seafloor of the ocean, thus affecting bottom dwellers for many years.
Besides the sea organisms, the coastal marshes in Louisiana are another environmental concern. They are a crucial component for the survival of marine life because they serve as a breeding ground and a first barrier for buildings against hurricanes. The effects may very well devastate an already unstable fishing industry.