Just my opinion on what I know about freshwater fish tanks, their water chemistry, and how sensitive many aquatic animals are. Also based on what I hear on the news.
In a nutshell, the fishing industry will not recover for 15-20 years down there. That means 1000s of people out of jobs, on welfare. They simply will not find jobs in this economy. (Maybe I'm pessimistic because I'm in Michigan, the arm pit of America's industry.)
The food chain will be severely affected for at least 10 years. Oil slicks will poison plankton directly, and block out sunlight causing them to die off. This effects all animals above in the food chain. To say the food chain may recover in 10-15 years is, IMO, overly optimistic.
Oil spills affect creatures at 3 levels of the ocean:
- oil slicks form on top of the water, blocking sunlight and poisoning animals.
- oil floats in the middle of the water column affecting mid-level animals.
- oil settles into the sand and rocks and crevices on the ocean bottom, affecting animals that live and hide there. (I did not know oil could sink but that's what the news reported.)
Also filter feeders (clams, etc) will be ingesting oil and dying. As oil washes up onto shore this affects plant light. As hurricanes appear the sandy beaches, now lacking plant light to hold the sand in, will get further eroded. Hurricanes will also stir up more oil each time, giving another does of poison to the local flora and fauna.
Now, what about that big "dead patch" that's floating around in the gulf? Combine that with the affects of the oil, and it's killing even more animals. (Isn't that patch caused by a certain type of algae bloom that uses up all the oxygen in a local area? By local area I mean 50 mile wide patch.)
What I'd like to ask the users here is, how is the Alaskan area of the Exxon Valdez oil spill recovering? Has it reached pre-spill conditions as far as abundance and health of ocean wildlife?
Edited by bulrush, 17 June 2010 - 08:57 AM.