The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: The Complete Story

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill which occurred on the 20th of April 2010, on the BP drilling rig Deepwater Horizon located a mile below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico is the most casualty inducing catastrophe to have taken place in today’s times. The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill might have taken place inadvertently but the ill-effects of the tragedy is something that is being borne not just by people living in the nearby coastal areas but also by marine animals, birds and the vegetation in those parts.

The Accident

The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill happened onboard a drilling rig Deepwater Horizon which leaked about five million barrels or 185 million gallons of oil into the water. The effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill have encompassed wide areas over Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama and have brought in problems to fishermen who have been fishing in these areas from decades and exotic and endangered breeds of marine creatures and fishes that thrive here.

gulf of mexico oil spill
Image for representation purpose only

The Effects of Oil Spill on Marine Life

Additionally, since the leak that sprung on the drilling leak was below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, more than the oil slick that is visible on the surface of the water, it is the accumulation of oil below the surface of the water that is even more dangerous. This accumulation of oil below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico has not yet dissipated in spite of the steps taken to stop the oil slick from spreading over large areas.

Also, this under-surface oil slick accumulation is a major problem to the lives of the fishes, whales, dolphins and plants which inhabit the parts affected by the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. Additionally, the birds which come to these parts to hunt for fishes also stand a chance to get affected by the oil slick just by consuming fishes which have come under the influence of the slicked oil.

And while the under-surface oil is causing a major potential threat to marine life-forms, the oil slick which has already managed to creep into the coastline and marshes of the United States has started posing problems to some endangered marine creatures. The coast of the epicentre where the oil spill occurred is the place where five different breeds of sea-turtles come to lay their eggs. Of these five, the breed named Kemp’s Ridley Turtle does not lay its eggs anywhere else in the world and is the most endangered creature amidst the other four, facing the threat of extinction. The slicked oil has the potency to harm the nesting grounds of these turtles thus disallowing a newer generation to come to existence. Also, even certain birds breed and mate during this season in the parts where the oil spill has originally occurred and in the areas where its after-effects are being observed, thus making the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill to be a major hazard to the birds as well. In addition to the turtles, even the species of whales and dolphins in these parts, are classified as being endangered, thereby making the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill a cause of major worry to the people and government in the United States but also across the world.

Steps Taken by British Petroleum

But on a positive note, it has to be given due appreciation that as much as the incident has been a cause of major worry to the entire world, the officials of the company responsible for the negligence that caused such an accident in the first place took immediate responsibility and made prompt efforts to stop the leak under the surface of the water along with the government of the United States.

In addition, the amount of compensation paid was also overwhelming. More than 2.2 billion US $ was paid to over a hundred-and-fifty thousand individuals who applied for reimbursements on account of the marine incident. Also, rapid efforts have and are being made to solve the problems that are being faced and could be faced by marine creatures in the days to come. Firing air cannons so as to prevent the birds from settling or fishing in the affected parts and by cleaning the washed up oil slick by the usage of huge cleaners, positive and participating campaigns have been made to stem the ill-effects of the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill among the marine creatures and flora and fauna.


But, while all the major efforts and endeavors are being made to stop the effects from gaining a much larger ground, it was important that efforts of this scale were taken in the first place, to prevent such a catastrophe from happening. As it so happens, today’s world is burdened by events like global warming and ozone layer depletion and the addition of this big an incident will only tend to spoil matters further. As responsible citizens of not just our country and state, it is important that we become good and responsible citizens of the world so as to preserve and pass on its environmental heritage and offerings for many years and generations to come.

If you liked this, you may also like reading The Compete Story of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, the second worst oil spill in the world.

You may also like to read – Top 20 Major Oil Spill Incidents Since 1967

Reference Nytimes, Nowpublic

Image Credits

Pollsb, World-mysteries, Blogspot

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About Author

Raunek Kantharia is a marine engineer turned maritime writer and entrepreneur. After a brief stint at the sea, he founded Marine Insight in 2010. Apart from managing Marine Insight, he also writes for a number of maritime magazines and websites.

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