there’s a lot more than 25% left

Bob Marshall tells us why there is no way that 75% of the oil is gone from the Gulf of Mexico, and what the long term effects could be…

Beauty of the Gulf of Mexico is only skin deep thanks to oil spill
Published: Sunday, August 08, 2010, 6:58 AM
Bob Marshall, The Times-Picayune

It was another chapter in the “Appearances Can Be Deceptive” handbook.

Tuesday we were anchored in a corner of Pato Caballo Lake south of Delacroix, watching redfish push wakes in the clear water as they raced after meals along a bank lined with very green and very healthy spartina marsh.

Shrimp were leaping from the water in vain attempts not to become redfish dinners. Blue claw crabs were riding the outgoing tide toward the Gulf of Mexico. Pelicans were diving on mullet schools.
Mottled ducks were puddle jumping. And sand flies were taking their pint of blood from my ankles.

One of the planet’s most vibrant and dynamic ecosystems seemed the picture of health. And when I reached home I read the news that the federal government believed there was little chance the BP oil mugging would change that scene.

According to their research more than 75 percent of the 210 million gallons of crude oil BP pumped into the Gulf was no longer an issue.
Of course, like most wetlands sportsmen, I knew better. And so should anyone who cares about our coast.

First, even while fishing in that wonderful scene, I knew the beauty was only skin deep — and barely so. That’s because I know the forces which are turning these marshes into open water at the rate of 25 square miles per year are still largely uncontested by our governments. I know the point of marsh that rewarded us with 20 redfish will not be there next August, and by then Pato Caballo will be wider and deeper. If BP had never happened, that would not have changed. No one has yet signed a stay of execution for southeast Louisiana.

Second, I know 210 million gallons of oil can’t be dumped into the Gulf without any ecological consequences. I know that after interviewing the scientists most familiar with the Gulf and our wetlands.

“The oil has not left the building,” was the lined used by Ian McDonald, the noted Florida State University oceanographer when I asked him. The error of the federal report, he said, is that it gives the impression most of the oil is no longer in the water because it was dissolved, dispersed, or degraded.

“That only means it’s still in the ocean, but in different forms,” he said. “You might not be able to see much of it floating on the surface, but it’s still in the water. The oil has not left the building.”

Richard Condrey, the LSU researcher who has studied Gulf fisheries for decades, only had to read the part of the report which said 26 percent of the total was now “residual.”

“They say residual means ‘on or just below the surface as light sheen and weathered tar balls, has washed ashore or been collected from the shore or is buried in sand and sediments,'” Condrey quoted.
“Well, that is all critical habitat for blue claws. So they’re saying something like 44 million barrels of oil is in blue claw habitat. That doesn’t make me feel very good.”

And Jerald Ault, the well-known marine scientist at University of Miami, agrees.
“This oil was coming from the sea floor, and being dispersed across the water column, in the north-central Gulf, which is where this vast plume of life from (the Mississippi River delta) attracts a variety of species for reproduction,” Ault said.

“All those toxins that were injected into the Gulf, and remain in the Gulf, can be deadly to eggs and larvae and the young life stages of these species like giant bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, the billfishes and marine mammals, and many others.

“When you inject that volume of oil and dispersants into this life web, changes will echo through the system for a very long time. This is a long way from being over, if it ever is really over.
“The Gulf may look OK, but it’s what we can’t see that we need to worry about and track.”

It’s like that beautiful fishing scene I enjoyed last week. If I judge only by appearances, I would never have guessed I was fishing in a sick and dying ecosystem.

The most knowledgeable experts on the Gulf of Mexico know that system has just been hit with a very large dose of poison, and should be kept under close observation for years.

I think they’re right – even when I don’t see any oil.

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~ by maringouin on Sunday, August 8, 2010.

2 Responses to “there’s a lot more than 25% left”

  1. Hey Youz!
    Thank you for this article. I caught it on a tweet from docbrite regarding his “the BP oil mugging” and couldn’t seem to find the article. D’OH! I love Bob Marshall. Lo and Behold I should’a just checked in with The Mosquito Coast!
    Drop by the Ladder, I got pics of Aussie Pelicans today! hehehe
    I love this blog. Haven’t been around in a while sorry. Nuts’y’know. Gonna fix’dat. Trying to get back to the deal now that ALL THE OIL IS GONE BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
    Thanks again 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. No problem Edit, are you going to RTV in 2 weeks?

    Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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