The Gulf Oil Spill

By Levi Hoffman

When, Where, Why, and How

The Gulf Oil Spill started on April 20, 2010. It ended on August 2, 2010. It was located across the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico, from New Orleans to Florida. The cause of the oil spill was the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Underwater cameras later found that the BP pipe was leaking oil and gas on the ocean floor about 42 miles off the coast of Louisiana.

The Damage Done

  • Scientists estimate that as many as 167,000 sea turtles of all ages were killed during the disaster.
  • Coral colonies in five separate locations in the Gulf - three in deep sea and two in shallower waters - show signs of oil damage.
  • Oil and response efforts killed as many as 8.3 billion oysters. These losses have put the sustainability of oysters in the Gulf of Mexico at risk.
  • Nearly all of the 21 species of dolphins and whales that live in the northern Gulf have demonstrable, quantifiable injuries.
  • In 2011, some red snapper and other fish caught in oiled areas had unusual lesions, rotting fins, or oil in their livers. Oil spill impacts have been found in fish species such as southern flounder, redfish, and killfish.

Methods Used To Clean Up The Oil Spill

BP used chemical dispersants, oil skimmers, and fire to clean up the oil. Chemical dispersants are chemicals similar to dishwasher detergent that is sprayed into the water that helps deteriorate the oil, until natural bacteria can take over. Oil skimmers are devices that skim over the water, and siphon up the oil, where it can even be sold on the market like regular oil. Finally, fire was used by setting controlled fires in the ocean to burn all the oil there, cleaning the water.

Lasting Affects Of The Spill

Tourism along the coast was affected very badly, and that will take a very long time to make up for the loss of money. Also, the environment was affected badly. For instance: It is estimated that it will take approximately one hundred years for the spinner dolphin population to recover. All in all, it will take a very long time for the world to go back to the way it was before, thanks to the Gulf Oil Spill.