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The Gulf Oil Spill

Updated on May 18, 2010

Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill 2010

Aerial photo shows the oil slick in relation to Louisiana's bootheel.
Aerial photo shows the oil slick in relation to Louisiana's bootheel.

On April 20, 2010 the drilling platform on the Deepwater Horizon exploded, killing 11 workers and two days later sending the rig to a watery grave below 5,000 feet of water. The tragedy that occurred aboard the Deepwater Horizon doesn’t stop with the lives lost. It continues beyond the Horizon’s own collapse, beyond the 50 miles to the Louisiana coast. The tragedy is one that is now looming on the lines of epic proportions. Two weeks after the explosion the well continues to leak oil into the Gulf of Mexico and at this point the nearest end in sight is still a week away.

In 1989 the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. For weeks and months the major news stations aired stories about the ecosystems that were affected, the wildlife that was killed or injured, the clean-up efforts. We all know it took years for the Alaskan ecosystems to become fully restored, if one can even say that are now. The Exxon Valdez oil spill was a tragedy that affected the entire world, but it was one that was relatively easily contained, considering what the Gulf coast states now face.

Oil-slicked Beach

Clean-up crews work on an oil-slicked beach.
Clean-up crews work on an oil-slicked beach.

The scary thing about the Gulf oil spill is that it’s not coming out of a tanker, it’s not coming from a source that will run dry sooner than later. Eventually it will run dry, but an anonymous BP official has stated there are tens of millions of barrels of oil in the pocket in which they were drilling. Think about that for a minute. Tens of millions of barrels of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, onto the white beaches of Florida, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas turning them black and brown, spilling into the waterways and inlets that provide the hatcheries for redfish, shrimp, oysters, trout, snook and many other species of marine life. It’s easy to say that the ecosystems will be harmed and countless animals lost. That’s true, but the broader and more frightening picture is the crippling effect this oil spill will have on all the industries that rely on those ecosystems.

Appalachicola is a fishing town on Florida’s panhandle. Though it’s gaining in popularity now for recreational fishing, the little town has primarily been one that makes a living on oysters. The bootheel of Louisiana lives on the harvesting of Gulf shrimp and recreational fishing of seatrout and redfish. Gulfport, Alabama and Pensacola, Florida are huge vacation spots for families. Steinhatchee and Cedar Key, Florida are big recreational fishing spots, and Cedar Key draws people from all over the state for fabulous sunsets, shrimp and scallops. Go a little further south along Florida’s Gulf coast and the primary industry becomes tourism. Places like Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach, Venice Beach, Marco Island and Sanibel survive because of their pristine beaches. Besides the beaches recreational fishing, sport fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling, and shrimping will feel huge losses when the oil slick reaches these places.

Animals and Ecosystems Suffer

This oil-slicked duck is alive but oil-coated feathers can be life-threatening.
This oil-slicked duck is alive but oil-coated feathers can be life-threatening.

The question now isn’t if but when.  There’s no doubt that some part of the slick will affect the majority, if not all, of the Gulf coast states.  Tourism, commercial fishing and recreational fishing are each multi-billion industries that will suffer catastrophic losses.  Fishermen in Louisiana are already lined up in their boats, booms at the ready to deploy along the mouths of Louisiana’s fragile inlets, an attempt to save the ecosystems that provide these fishermen and their families with a living.  Fishermen in Mississippi are ready to do the same.  Kayakers from Florida have traveled to Louisiana to help in the clean-up efforts.  Millions of people’s livelihoods are at stake, and the longer it takes BP to cut off the flow of oil into the Gulf the worse the damage will be.  Clean-up of animals and the return of ecosystems will take decades or more. 

The only shining light right now is that people WILL work together to save the very marine life that supports them.  They will work together to clean up every drop of spilled oil.  They will bring every ounce of humanity that they have and work hard to put their lives back together, as individuals, as communities, and as industries.  This world has a remarkable way of bouncing back from the ugliest scars.  There’s no doubt the Gulf coast will bounce back from this one.  The questions that will remain are, how long will it take to recover and what have we learned from this mess?

More Gulf Oil Spill Hubs


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    • KKalmes profile image

      KKalmes 7 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      Hello cvanthul, I voted thumbs up and awesome because in my mind awesome is excellent and until we get an excellent rating that's how it's going to be.

      Your hub is now linked to my Oil Spill hub... enough can't be said about this tragedy... come by and read comments from lmmartin she lives in Florida also.

    • profile image

      Guest 7 years ago

      In 1979 A Mexican drilling platform in the southern Gulf exploded after the BLOWOUT PREVENTER failed. The Mexican company running the Ixtoc I rig tried all the things BP has tried, and nothing worked until a relief well was drilled. It took 10 months and 22 days, and that disaster was in considerably more shallow water.

      Luckily, Texas had two months to prepare and make ready for the "oil slick" heading toward it's shores. A luxury the Gulf Coast states didn't have in the current situation.

      Baby, you ain't seen nothing yet!

    • cvanthul profile image

      Cristina Vanthul 7 years ago from Florida

      Thanks, mquee. No, I don't think anyone can even imagine how bad this could get. Not much to be done for it at the moment except try to stem the leak (and that's up to BP) and clean up the beaches, estuaries, swamps, etc. I work in hospitality and have actually had people say they wouldn't cancel their Florida vacation - they would simply come help with the clean up. Very encouraging.

      I don't usually write about horses as I lived it years ago, but I'll think on it. Maybe I'll get something put together.


    • mquee profile image

      mquee 7 years ago from Columbia, SC

      This is a very educational hub in that we are about to live through a nightmarish event. I don't believe many people can fathom the damage that will be done before all is said and done. Thank for the good work.

      Oh yes, I saw your interest in training and raising horses, hope you write something on that soon.

    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 7 years ago

      Good Hub. Keep the light shining.

    • cvanthul profile image

      Cristina Vanthul 7 years ago from Florida

      Thank you both. In mid-Florida we wait anxiously to see if we're going to affected the way Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi have been.

    • profile image

      training.osha6 7 years ago

      Nice Hub...

      You have lighted lamps in this dark oil spill.

      For you all check this hub

    • thevoice profile image

      thevoice 7 years ago from carthage ill

      this sad beautiful hub coverage thanks