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Page added on January 26, 2016

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Microbes Thrive In The Gulf of Mexico Due To Natural Oil Spill

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"natural oil spill"

It seems that microbes thrive in the Gulf of Mexico due to natural oil spill that occurs in the waters and might actually encourage growth of the bacteria. There is a good side to oil where it concerns marine life. However, as it is in all things, moderation is key.

Researchers from the University of Columbia and University of Florida studied the effects of natural oil in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly the microbes known as phytoplankton. It’s an invaluable source of food for numerous animals within the waters. Many depend on its existence, ranging from shrimps even to whales.

Not just surviving with the oil, but thriving

Lead author of the study, Nigel D’Souza from the University of Columbia, made the discovery while studying cholorophyll fluorescence in phytoplankton cells. While travelling by ship, he noted that the population of phytoplankton was much higher in areas with known natural oil spills. In fact, water samples, phytoplankton study, and satellite images confirmed his theory. The microbes were not only surviving with the natural oil spill, but actually thriving.

D’Souza observed that the population of phytoplankton was twice higher in areas dominated by natural oil spills than regions a mile away. That led to their research which found benefits in the existence of the sleek liquid within the gulf’s waters. However, Ajit Subramaniam, an oceanographer from the university’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, underlined the fact that natural oil per se is not good for the phytoplankton. However, the nutrients it provides in the spilling process are.

The microbes are being fed by the nutrients brought up by the oil bubbles and natural gases that appear with the presence of natural oil. It helps the microbes thrive. According to Subramaniam, this is the first evidence ever discovered that there are some microbes in the Gulf of Mexico who are pre-conditioned to survive with oil. At the very least, in low concentrations.

In this case, they have observed that the phytoplankton, placed crucially at the base of the marine food chain, is not suffering the negative impact of natural oil. However, that does not mean that all types and amount of oil spill will be beneficial. The Deepwater Horizon spill back in 2010, for example. Huge amounts of oil seeping into the ocean is certainly not beneficial for the marine life.

Just the right amount

In the unfortunate accident, around 4.3 million barrels of oil slipped into the Gulf of Mexico. Natural oil, on the other hand, seeps between 160,000 and 600,000 barrels each year. That spill is also spread over time, so it’s not all seeping into the waters at the same time. It covers up to 62 square miles (100 km2) which can disappear in just a week. That was not the case for the Deepwater Horizon spill. It was too much and too quick to be beneficial.

So, there are parts of natural oil spills, specifically the nutrients brought up by bubbles and gases, that feed the phytoplankton and double their population in concentration. However, too much and the negative effects will start to show.

Researchers now plan on conducting further study to see if all types of phytoplankton react the same way to natural oil.


13 Comments on "Microbes Thrive In The Gulf of Mexico Due To Natural Oil Spill"

  1. makati1 on Tue, 26th Jan 2016 7:10 pm 

    Death by a thousand cuts…

  2. geopressure on Tue, 26th Jan 2016 7:11 pm 

    The Oil came from phytoplankton & it is eaten by phytoplankton… This is widely know…

    When they find an abundant food source they don’t just double, their population grows exponentially until there is no more food…

  3. BC on Tue, 26th Jan 2016 8:04 pm 

    Yet more evidence to support doubling down one’s evolutionary bet on ants, termites, and cockroaches.

    If there is life in the rest of the known Universe (or unknown multiverse), then the overwhelming probability is that “life” is in the form of lower-order, low-entropy, single-celled organisms that have adapted to unspeakably hostile environments in terms of high-entropy apes’ requirements for survival and successful adaptation and reproduction.

    This is the misanthrope’s quintessential, thermodynamic, scientific, intellectual rationalization for being! 😀

    We might be utterly “special” and unique in the Universe on our small, warm, wet rock, which is to say that we are bloody, bleeping doomed as a lifeform. 😀

  4. GregT on Tue, 26th Jan 2016 8:26 pm 

    “When they find an abundant food source they don’t just double, their population grows exponentially until there is no more food…”

    Sounds sadly familiar……….

  5. makati1 on Tue, 26th Jan 2016 9:09 pm 

    Making life interesting in the Us…

    “LA County Doctors Report Patients With Zika Virus Symptoms”

    “Zika’s Likely to Spread Across Americas, World Health Organization Says”

    “Aedes Aegypti: Meet the Mosquito Spreading Zika Virus Panic”

    “In Brazil, a Scramble to Stop Zika
    Health minister: Brazil is ‘losing battle’ against mosquito”

    “U.S. boosts study of Zika, birth defect link, as virus seen spreading”

    “Countries Hit With Zika Virus Are Telling Women Not to Get Pregnant”

    Going to be an interesting and exciting year.

    BTW: Canada is not likely to share this fate. Too cold for the carrier.

  6. GregT on Tue, 26th Jan 2016 10:11 pm 

    “BTW: Canada is not likely to share this fate. Too cold for the carrier.”

    You obviously haven’t been paying much attention to Canada lately Mak. We had temperatures in the 80s and 90s up here for much of the summer last year.

    We don’t live in the permafrost anymore you know. 🙂

  7. antaris on Tue, 26th Jan 2016 11:15 pm 

    Mak down south the carrier is like a fighter aircraft . Up here in Canada they build the carrier like a bomber, big and nasty. And the bomber doesn’t seem to care about temperature at times.

  8. makati1 on Wed, 27th Jan 2016 1:40 am 

    Antaris, but the one that carries the disease is a small tropical variety. Maybe your big ones will be immune.

    I do know about the big ones. I worked in West Yellowstone Park in the Spring of 65′ on a tree spraying project sponsored by the government. It was to kill the pine bark beetles, but obviously didn’t work. Anyway, I was surprised to be attacked by literally hundreds of them as we trekked across the snow fields of March. I used a can of quality insect repellent a week while I was there and wore multiple layers of clothes to keep them away. If you stopped, at least 50 would land on you and try to get through the layers. Nasty bitches! Maybe similar to your bombers?

    I guess everywhere has it’s hazards.^_^

  9. makati1 on Wed, 27th Jan 2016 1:43 am 

    GregT, yes, the statement only pertains to previous conditions, but maybe it will take longer to get there. You can hope.

    So far, it has not come to the Ps, but with so many traveling, nowhere is safe. I would guess it will spread through all of the US this summer. Only one of many new challenges coming to America as the tropics move north.

  10. Anonymous on Wed, 27th Jan 2016 6:26 am 

    This whole article reeks of ‘big oil research’. The message its trying to peddle, couldn’t be more clear.

    *Oil spills are a ‘natural occurrence’ and mother nature is here to clean it all up and make it go away. In the case of an ‘unnatural’ oil spill? Well, no problem at all there either. Those helpful microbes(tm) will just multiply away and expand to soak up all that accidentally released crude oil-problem solved! No need to spend any more money or resources cleaning anything up-Mother Natures got it covered.*

  11. Krnz300 on Wed, 27th Jan 2016 10:15 am 

    So the take away from Exxon Mobile is that poisoning the air land and water is good for you…… you should be saying thank you as you take your poison……

  12. Apneaman on Thu, 28th Jan 2016 3:49 pm 

    Thriving microbes

    Zika and the New Climate Dystopia — Human Hothouse as Disease Multiplier

    “There are a plethora of diseases out there. Diseases we don’t know about. Diseases locked away in far-off, rarefied corners of the world. Diseases that operate in small niche jungle environments. Diseases that live in only cave systems or within a single species. Diseases that were locked away millions of years ago in the now-thawing ice. Diseases that, if given a vector — or a means to travel outside of their little rarefied organic or environmental niches — can wreck untold harm across wide spans of the globe.”

  13. Apneaman on Thu, 28th Jan 2016 3:53 pm 

    Dead microbes

    Soil productivity cut by climate change, making societies more marginal: studies

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