. February 17, 2015
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010 may have created a vast zone on the Gulf of Mexico floor where marine life is much sparser than before toxic petroleum settled there, according to studies presented Monday at a Houston conference on the BP oil spill.
Sperm whales are no longer feeding in a vast area of the Gulf of Mexico affected by the oil spill, an indication that there is nothing there to feed on, said Bruce Mate of the Hatfield Marine Science Center at Oregon State University, one of the scientists who conducted the study of 54 sperm whales from 2010 to 2013. Whales that typically made repeated dives over the area before the oil spill afterwards shunned large parts of it and made few dives around its edges as they searched for squid. Those areas are where millions of gallons of oil sank to the seabed, leading researchers to surmise that many organisms have perished over a 1,500 square-mile area.
Mate said he suspects the problem has to do with the food chain at the bottom of the Gulf, where there are no longer organisms to support the squid that are sperm whales’ main food source.
Mate said the zone could become a serious problem for marine life if it fails to heal. ''My sense is that we’ve got a little bit of a tiger by the tail,'' he said. ''I think we need to be concerned about how long this lasts.'' Read more at http://www.adn.com/article/20150217/studies-bp-spill-reduced-gulf-marine-life