Major oil spill devastates marine life (2010)

Laila Samphilipo, Editor-in-Chief of The Prowler

On April 20, 2010, the explosion of the offshore oil drilling rig, Deepwater Horizon, resulted in the largest spill of oil in the entire history of marine oil drilling operations. Four million barrels of oil steadily flowed into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of 87 days, until the drilling rig was finally capped on July 15, 2010. 

Over nine years later, and the environmental impact of these 87 days are still felt. 

This catastrophe not only killed 11 oil drilling rig workers, but exposed thousands of protected animal species to oil— putting marine life at risk of potentially fatal adverse health effects. 

According to the 2015 federal document known as the “Programmatic Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan,” the damage to surrounding wildlife and habitats are ongoing for many. 

According to this report, as well as additional research, nearly all of the 21 species of dolphins and whales that reside in the northern gulf have “demonstrable, quantifiable injuries,” with the projected bottlenose dolphin population to decline by half. 

Select sea turtles, fish, birds and even parts of the gulf floor also have ongoing signs of damage caused by oil. 

As told to “Smithsonian by James Cowan, fisheries scientist of Louisiana State University, when describing the lasting effects of oil on the gulf floor, “There is worry that when we do have a big tropical storm, oil that has been buried or sequestered might become remobilized.” 

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