When you think of a disaster like the Deepwater Horizon spill (or any other oil spill), one of the first things that come to your mind is probably all the dawn commercials, you know the ones I'm talking about. They feature the little ducks, covered in oil being cleaned up by dozens of volunteers and then released out into the wild.
In 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded and created the largest offshore oil disaster in history, causing millions of barrels to leak into the Gulf of Mexico. April 2019 would have marked nine years since the spill.
I was 10 years old when the spill happened, and all of what I remember was what I saw on tv and even some of what I saw wash up on the beach in Galveston. The aftermath, the burning that went on for days, and the final capping of the oil are some of the things that stand out to me the most, especially the images of the oil spewing out of the uncapped drill spot.
I also remember the cleanup and how much time it took after (although, since I was so young, very briefly).
The oil caused major damage to an ecosystem that was already stressed. Scientists have said that it was one of the worst oil spills in U.S. history. On the surface, we saw things like damage to dolphins, turtles, and those baby birds we talked about with the Dawn commercial.
Another major surface impact is the marshes that are nearby in Louisiana.
A study, done by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, found plants play a crucial role in the recovery of important links in the Gulf of Mexico's coastal food web, which ultimately connect to the fish and shellfish that support the region's economy and culture. The conclusion ultimately was that plants are the foundation of the saltwater marshes that surround Louisiana, and without them, the marshes went downhill fast.
Underneath all of that is just as worrisome. For example, the impact on deep-water corals, zooplankton, and various other marine life that live deep in the water.
This is where the idea of marine snow may come in.
Science Daily put it simply when they talked about the impact on the process of marine snow. The problem here is that the oil gets into it and transforms it into marine snow with oil. The danger in this is that when it sinks, it goes down into the deep, deep water (much like all of the little plastic particles that are in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch) and harms the oxygen that is down there.