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dreamwolf's avatar

Is the Gulf of Mexico habitable for sea creatures?

Asked by dreamwolf (3142 points ) September 12th, 2011

Great answers to those who have well researched responses! Have at least a source or two with post links. Let’s get the awareness up.

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5 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

There’s a dead zone outside of the Mississippi River from an excess of nutrients from farm runoff. It changes in size depending on the nutrient levels. I don’t have a source. It’s just something I’ve watched over the years.

marinelife's avatar

Yes, since there are a lot of sea creatures in it. That said:

“A mile below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, there is little sign of life.

“It looks like everything’s dead,” University of Georgia professor Samantha Joye said.

In an exclusive trip aboard the U.S. Navy’s deep-ocean research submersible Alvin, ABC News was given the chance to observe the impact of this summer’s massive oil spill that most will never see.

The ocean floor appears to be littered with twigs, but Joye points out that they are actually dead worms and that Alvin is sitting on top of what is considered an 80-square mile kill zone.” ABC News

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I’ve sailed the Gulf from Brownsville to New Orleans to Apalachicola down to Key West. I’ve sailed from Tampico around the Yucatan to Belize. It is quite full of life. I have seen huge Riddley and Leatherback turtles, thousands of dolphin pods, big billfish, flying fish that have smacked my deck, and huge schools of Tarpon, Mackerel and King. I am told by oldtimers that the Gulf isn’t as lively as it used to be, and I know for sure the fishing isn’t what it was when I fished from docks off the west coast of Florida when was a kid, but there is still a lot of life and beauty in the Gulf. It is by no means dead, but it is at risk. I have seen the on-going damage from the 2011 BP Oil Disaster. I see fish with lesions, open sores and rotting dorsal fins. I’ve seen whole pods of sickly, lethargic dolphins (but not lately). I still find a big dead leatherback floating upside down in the reeds now and then. In the sparsely-populated bayous between St. Marks in north Florida and Steinhatchee just north of Cedar Key, there are still estuaries clogged with oil and sand stained with tar. I haven’t been back up this coast since before the recent Tropical Storm Lee, but I’ve heard reports from fishermen that the storm washed even more oil up from the bottom and slung it on the beaches in the Panhandle and south. The tourist beaches were cleaned up with a week. I’m assuming, like during the initial disaster, that those lonely estuaries away from the tourist’s eye will be left to languish although dutiful fishermen and gunkholers have repeatedly reported the pollution. But don’t think for a moment that the Gulf is dead. It’s just misunderstood, ignored, and taking one helluva beating.

dreamwolf's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus I’ve read that the oil mass within the Gulf is equivalent to the amount of space Mt. Everest with the width of Texas.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@dreamwolf It’s possible, but there is conflicting info from NOAA (Who’s top scientist admitted to lying about the extent of the BP damage), the US Coast Guard, and the university system. The best info I get comes from local fishermen which, after a time makes it to the universities and then maybe the press. The oil went somewhere and one can only assume it went to the bottom. We are seeing the effects. The shrimping isn’t what it was, that’s for sure. Grouper and other commercial fishing is down in catch volume. Game fishermen have regularly been reporting sickly catches and lesions in widespread fish populations, especially beyond the hundred-mile mark (I have seen this personally) since last autumn. Interestingly, the commercial fishing industry has been silent about this. The university researchers, particularly the University of South Florida Marine Laboratory at St. Petersburg, Florida, has reported an eruption of icthiological pathologies since the summer of 2010, but states they are unable to determine without reasonable doubt if these new problems are due to the BP Oil disaster.

I’ve seen some improvements since last summer, but not much. I posted this last August on Fluther:

“I live on a beach on the west coast of Florida. I worked with a medical team in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew. I nearly shit my pants when Katrina came rolling up into the Gulf of Mexico toward my island, then watched helplessly all night as she passed us by and approached New Orleans, the city of my birth, knowing full well the situation with the Levy System and the many oil rigs in her path.

“Before this, I, like many, had read reports of the dying underwater basin off the Mississippi Delta due to the billions of tons of chemicals, carcinogens and heavy metals being pumped into the River over the last 100 years from Bimidji, Minnesota to the petrochemical refineries around New Orleans. Statistics have indicated since the 1960s that the communities living along the 130 miles of River between Baton Rouge and Grande Isle have the highest cancer rates in the US.

“At this very moment, I am sitting aboard a 40 foot sailing yacht in a marina at Cedar Key, Florida in transit for delivery to its owner in St. Petersburg. I began this voyage a little more than a week ago at Fort Walton Beach, Florida in the Panhandle near the Alabama line. This is my second trip along this route since late July. I have read that the oil leak has been stopped, that the slick is no more, that the emergency is over, and it has all but disappeared from the media. There is a referendum on the Florida ballot slated for next November on whether or not we shall allow drilling off our coast. In July the polls showed 58% against this. A few days ago that number had dropped to 42%. The citizenry’s memory is short.

“I am here to tell you that the emergency is far from over. Gunkholing along the coast from Fort Walton Beach to Apalachicola, I found formerly pristine estuaries thick with tar and no cleanup crews in sight. Rotting oil-covered carcasses of sea fowl and fish all along this part of the coast. 4 freshly dead loggerheads. Last month I found the same, plus I encountered a pod of about 15 sickly dolphins, swimming slowly on their sides in the apparent throes of death. I found no slick on this trip. I attribute, unscientifically, the deaths to the dispersant s used in the management of the spill.

“Earlier this month a scientist from NOAA admitted to a Congressional investigation committee that he had lied about the extent of the damage due to the spill and admitted that the damage was vast and will go on for years. The committee, which was supposed to be attended by a score of Congressmen, was attended only by its chairman and the NOAA witness. The day before the committee met, the New York Times printed an article that downplayed drastically the damage to the spill and described the long term damage negligible.”

Update: The scientist was let go. And the people of Florida let the idea of a no-drill referendum die of voter apathy and we now have a governor who is pushing his Republican legislature very hard to allow drilling off one of Florida’s last pristine coastlines. After a spate of one-year anniversary articles last April, the New York Times has been silent on any new news on this issue—as has the US media in general.

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