BP spill: The worst is yet to come

Contrary to what BP wants you to believe, says Julia Whitty in Mother Jones, the catastrophic effects of the oil spill will last for generations

Despite reports that the oil has disappeared, many animals in the Gulf are still suffering, and will for years to come.
(Image credit: Getty)

BP's "reckless quest" to drill deeper and cheaper than any other oil company has endangered not only the Gulf of Mexico, says Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, Julia Whitty, "but the largest, richest, most pristine, most biologically important, and last completely unprotected ecosystem left on Earth: the deep ocean." Marine life has been forever altered by the incalculable amounts of oil and other deadly chemicals currently saturating the water. "Never before in human history has the vast food web of the ocean—rooted in the dark, and flowering at the surface—come under so many assaults from below, above, and within," writes Whitty. So, please, ignore reports that this disaster has just mysteriously floated away. The ecological horror caused by the BP oil spill has only begun. An excerpt:

A few hundred yards away, tucked into the marsh grass on Grand Isle State Park, we see a dead dolphin, half-skeletonized, half-mummified. In the heat and humidity of coastal Louisiana, it is hard to tell if it'd been dead a week or a month. We do know that dead dolphins are washing up along the Gulf Coast in higher-than-normal numbers. We don't know how many more have died at sea and sunk, never to be counted. On the beach surrounding the dead dolphin are hundreds of hermit crabs coated with a chocolatey syrup of oil, their tracks up the beach splattered as they fled the foul waters....

Barataria Bay has become a hospice wilderness, full of dying plants and animals. Nearly all the marshy islands are oiled. The oyster beds covering 10 percent of the bay are dead or dying and now closed to human harvesting. The post-larval brown shrimp migrating into the bay (the estuaries of Louisiana and Texas are home to the highest densities of brown shrimp in US waters) are running an oily gauntlet. So are the speckled trout that normally feast on brown shrimp during their own breeding season. For the first time in my bird-watching life, I've seen multitudes of clapper rails—notoriously secretive marsh-dwelling birds—running down levees and roads in broad daylight trying to escape the oiled wetlands.

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