Sunday, April 25, 2010

Oil Rig Disaster: potential harm to whale sharks

President Obama's announcement several weeks ago, wherein he would consider issuing offshore oil drilling licenses along the southeastern seaboard and portions of the Gulf of Mexico, drew criticism from many conservation groups as it appeared to be a reversal of his position during his presidential campaign. From a public relations standpoint, once you take on a controversial position, the last thing you need is to add fuel to the fire. Or should I say fire to the oil.

As you probably know, a massive floating oil rig off the coast of Louisiana suffered an explosion and fire, sank and, as of yesterday, is reported to be leaking oil from some yet to be defined source underwater.

Here's a post from SharkDivers, bringing up the issue of the oil threat to whale sharks that cruise the area. Unfortunately, this could be only the beginning. . .

Oil Spill in the Gulf - Whale Shark Impact?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

For the past two years we have been covering whale shark aggregations off the coast of Morgan City, Louisiana.

Upwards of 40-100 animals at a time have been sighted here year after year and have become both industry and major media news.

Scientist Eric Hoffmayer has been studying these groups as far out as 100 miles from shore and that's where this week's news from the Gulf takes a decidedly nasty turn.

The Swiss-based Transocean Ltd's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sunk last week, leaving many in the region to worry about ongoing oil seeping from the wellhead at 5000 feet. The worst case scenario has happened and now experts agree close to 1000 barrels a day are leaking to the surface or close to 42,000 gallons of oil.

Oil clean-up crews have dumped over a million gallons of chemical oil dispersant into the region and more is sure to come in an effort to break up the oil on the surface. As whale sharks feed on the surface this oil and chemical dispersant does not bode well for these peaceful giants of the Gulf.

1 comment:

Joshua Sophy said...

The environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig sinking into the Gulf of Mexico will be felt for years to come. The financial impact is already being felt.

As it sunk, the rig began spilling tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the water per day. Nearly a half-million gallons have already spilled and the toll could be worse than that of the Valdez accident.

Fears are that oil from the well on the sea floor will begin making its way to the surface. Just 41 miles from the coast, the rig is situated so that this incident has brought a lot of business to a halt on the seas, and for those who depend on the Gulf along the shores. As the slick spreads across the Gulf, more and more business is impacted each day. This delay is likely to total in the millions of dollars until the site is cleaned.

And clearly, the impact of sea life in the Gulf is immediate and could be felt for years. Those waters serve as home to numerous fish species and shellfish like shrimp, mussels and oysters we find at markets. Not only is it next to impossible to farm these animals under such conditions, the water quality is sure to be jeopardized by the massive oil spill.

Please read this site for more information on the environmental and economic damages this explosion, fire and spill have caused: