Tourism and maritime activities along the U.S. Gulf Coast underwent a significant jolt on April 10, 2010. Barely more than seven years ago, an explosion and fire caused an offshore British Petroleum pipeline to spew an estimated 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into U.S. coastal waters for 87 days.
The horrific disaster killed 11 people. It damaged numerous businesses in the region, too. Estimates of environmental losses included the deaths of thousands of marine mammals. Over 1,000,000 birds died as a result of the catastrophe.
Now a study conducted by Jeffrey Short, an environmental consultant from Juneau, Alaska, has provided evidence of ongoing negative impacts on fish in the area. The report could hold significant implications for the recovery of damaged U.S. coastal fishing industries.
Creating Ecological Imbalances
The new study suggests the oil spill created severe imbalances in maritime ecosystems. The loss of so many predators caused some fish populations to explode soon afterwards and exceed population carrying capacity in the severely damaged local environment. Some fish species actually began starving. Without natural controls on population expansion, some maritime species experienced stress. Jeffrey Short has concluded the herring population across a wide swathe of water from Alabama to Texas may never fully recover from the tragedy. He believes the spill in the Gulf Coast may have cause irreversible ecological damage to sensitive marine environments in the region.
Another study mentioned in the article published on the Huffington Post website reportedly appeared in the Social Science Society of America Journal. It detailed findings by crop researchers sponsored by the American Society of Agronomy. That study also concludes the oil spill possibly produced long term harm.