Gulf of Mexico: 6 years later

2010 BP oil spill is one of the largest environmental tragedies, six years later its consequences continue to surprise us. 

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded on April 20, 2010. The well was capped 3 months later, on July 15, 2010 but an estimated of 134 million gallons of crude oil and 4 million pounds of gas had already been leaked into the Gulf waters.

11 men were killed during the explosion and the gulf suffered from damages that are still not completely comprehended nor its impact can be fully known. It is recognized as the worst oil spill in the history of the United States.

Last year the WWF released the report "Five years and counting" which exposed some of the research findings regarding the effects of the spill in the different wildlife species.

Among these were the brown pelican, Atlantic Bluefin tuna, blue crab, the bottlenose dolphin, corals and Kemp’s ridley sea turtle among many others.

Between 27,000-65,000 Kemp's ridley sea turtles died in 2010 and their nest number has declined after the spill. 12% of brown pelicans and 32% of laughing gulls are estimated to have died as well.

Oil has been found in a 1,200 square mile area surrounding the wellhead in the Gulf of Mexico.

The most shocking results were the increase in bottlenose dolphins who were found dead in the Louisiana coast at four times historic rates.

Exposure to the BP oil spill, according to a study published on April 12 by Diseases of Aquatic Organisms is being related to the death of baby dolphins. They were perinatal dolphins, meaning they were late-term dolphins that had died inside the womb or as newborns.

The study concludes the exposure to the oil may have caused late-term abortions inside the uterus or early deaths in the newborns. Also, dolphins found on shore have shown lung abnormalities that can also be related to the oil spill.

Previously this month a New Orleans judge approved the $20 billion settlement that will cover the environmental damage. It will also respond to the claims done by the five Gulf states and their local governments.

It will be paid out in the next 16 years, and is the largest environmental settlement ever paid in the US.

The disaster has caused BP mayor loses, they reported an annual loss of $6.5 billion and cuts in over 7,000 jobs.

They're also facing another lawsuit in Mexico because of this spill. It reached Mexican coasts days after the rig and caused damage to local communities who depend on tourism and fishing for living.

The impact on wildlife and environment caused by the Deepwater Horizon disaster will not be completely known for the years to come.

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