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Page added on July 22, 2010

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Nature Often Resilient in Recovering From Oil Spills


do not underestimate nature’s powers of recovery. After most big oil spills, scientists are pleasantly surprised by how quickly the oil disappears and the marine life reappears. This is true even in Alaska, where the sheltered waters, low temperatures and abundant wildlife conspired to make the slick damaging and persistent. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says on its website: `What scientists have found is that, despite the gloomy outlook in 1989, the intertidal habitats of Prince William Sound have proved to be surprisingly resilient.’ A scientist who led some of the research into the Exxon Valdez says that `Thoughts that this is going to kill the Gulf of Mexico are just wild overreactions’.

This rapid recovery was also a signature of the last big Gulf rig spill, the Ixtoc 1 disaster off Mexico in 1979. Although the number of turtles took decades to recover, much of the rest of the wildlife bounced back fairly rapidly. `To be honest, considering the magnitude of the spill, we thought the Ixtoc spill was going to have catastrophic effects for decades’, Luis Soto of the National Autonomous University of Mexico told a newspaper this year. `But within a couple of years, almost everything was close to 100 percent normal again.’ The warm waters and strong sunshine of the Gulf of Mexico are highly conducive to the chemical decomposition of oil by `photo-oxidation’, and are stuffed full of organisms that actually like to eat the stuff – in moderation.

2 Comments on "Nature Often Resilient in Recovering From Oil Spills"

  1. DC on Fri, 23rd Jul 2010 6:35 am 

    Wishful thinking or willful stupidity? You do NOT release millions of gallons\barrells of toxic sludge into the the worlds waterways, wait a while, then declare nature is “resiliant”. The only reason PWS seems to have “recoved”, is simply b/c it is so remote and not featured on the daily news. Fact is the damage there is on-going and serious, as it is with many other major spill sites.

  2. KenZ300 on Fri, 23rd Jul 2010 11:24 am 

    There will be long term consequences for the Gulf ecosystem and the people who live in the surrounding areas. Lives will be changed, incomes lost, families broken and livelihoods changed.

    I just hope the Gulf recovers from the OIL spill faster than Chernobyl recovers from the NUCLEAR disaster.

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