Oil spill creates huge undersea ‘dead zones’
Clouds of crude and chemical dispersants have formed in the Gulf of Mexico and oceanologists fear these could have devastating effects on the food chain
By Emily Dugan
Sunday, 30 May 2010
The world’s most damaging oil spill – now in its 41st continuously gushing day – is creating huge unseen “dead zones” in the Gulf of Mexico, according to oceanologists and toxicologists. They say that if their fears are correct, then the sea’s entire food chain could suffer years of devastation, with almost no marine life in the region escaping its effects.
While the sight of tar balls and oil-covered birds on Louisiana’s shoreline has been the most visible sign of the spill’s environmental destruction, many scientists now believe it is underwater contamination that will have the deadliest impact. At least two submerged clouds of noxious oil and chemical dispersants have been confirmed by research vessels, and scientists are seeing initial signs of several more. The largest is some 22 miles long, six miles wide and 3,300 feet deep – a volume that would take up half of Lake Erie. Another spans an area of 20 square miles.