Caribbean Community countries fear that oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico could reach the Bahamas and Jamaica, saying that a recent change in wind patterns could push the oil past the southern tip of Florida and toward its northern member states affecting tourism. Another great concern is the damage being done to various types of ecosystems and a variety of species.
Scientists say that the massive oil slick that is spreading throughout the waters of the Gulf of Mexico is already threatening the existence of a critically endangered sawfish, Louisiana’s brown pelican (the state bird), coral reefs, the ridley and loggerhead sea turtles, and whales, among others.
The largetooth sawfish was proposed as a federally endangered species on May 7, less than three weeks after massive amounts of oil started gushing into Gulf waters, said George Burgess, an ichthyologist and sawfish expert at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The already endangered smalltooth sawfish is also likely to be impacted by the oil leak, which has been growing for more than a month. Burgess says that “The oil spill will not only have very dire effects on such highly visible creatures as seabirds and dolphins, but also threatens a multitude of bottom-dwelling organisms.” He adds that the opportunities for serious ecological problems are mind-boggling, with dire implications for what’s left of [the sawfish species] in the northwest Atlantic Ocean if the oil reaches critical mangrove habitat.”
Gerald Weissmann, editor-in-chief of the FASEB Journal (journal of the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology) says that “Stuff leaching from the ocean floor is the worst environmental challenge a coral reef can face.” The deaths of three sperm whales have also been attributed to the oil spill, threatening the small population of the species that is native to the Gulf.
Tony Sturges, professor emeritus in oceanography at Florida State University, explains that “Florida should be bracing for the worst.” The noxious oil could get pulled into estuaries, harbors and coastal waterways, affecting nurseries for valuable fisheries.
For full articles, see http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2010/0602/Oil-spill-cleanup-BP-spill-s-effect-on-endangered-marine-species-potentially-mind-boggling and http://www.brandonsun.com/world/breaking-news/caribbean-community-warns-oil-spilling-into-gulf-could-reach-bahamas-jamaica-95690204.html?viewAllComments=y