Ecosystems Impacted By the Deep Water Horizon Spill

EcosystemsImpacted By the Deep Water Horizon Spill

EcosystemsImpacted By the Deep Water Horizon Spill

TheMarine Wetlands Ecosystems

The wetland ecosystems have verydifferent characteristics but the common feature of all the wetlandsis the level of the water table is very near the surface of the soil.The main features are determined by the soil type, animals livinghere and the salinity of the water. There are two major types ofclassification of the wetlands the first basing on the traditionalconcept and the second one is based on the scientific grounds(Thibodeaux et al., 2011).

Thelevel of threat caused by oil spill and species affected

Oil spills are said to be a veryserious water pollutants in case they spill in the water bodies.These water bodies include the wetland ecosystems (Grattanet al., 2011). They have a highly adverse effect on the water bodiesand can even cause to death of some of the wetland plant and animalspecies. The dangers oil spills pose to the environment are numerousand highly dangerous.


Seabirds are the ones mainlyaffected by the oil spills. When they are covered they become veryheavy and unable to fly. Sea Otters which have air bubbles located intheir fur which enables them float and survive on water. Oil spillscovers these air bubbles and animals may die of hypothermia (Grattanet al., 2011). The killer Whales are the other group of animalsaffected by oil spills it plugs up the blow holes which makes themunable to breathe and eventually die. Small organisms are alsoaffected by Oil spills that live in the sea they include plankton,and larval fish, bottom-dwelling organisms like oysters, seaweed,mussels (Beazley et al., 2012). When these organisms die they affectthe food chain in the ecosystem. Oil Spills will also affect themarine plants in many ways, it forms a thick layer on the watersurface which blocks out light and prevents gaseous exchange. Theplants will be unable to carry out photosynthesis (Grattanet al., 2011).

There are several survey methodsthat can be used to carry out the survey which include use of theSatellites, Planes, Boats, Gliders and Scientists on the ground

Economicand environmental cost of oil spills in the ecosystem

We have three major costs of oilspills which include the Clean-up Costs which are very high(Grattan et al., 2011). Also,there are the damages to the natural resources which include the costof returning the resources to their previous conditions. Lastly, theeconomic costs such as tourism losses and local businessesinterruptions

TheShoreline and Beaches

The shoreline is the highlydynamic area where land meets ocean, and it’s shaped by thenatural- physical processes and also the human activities. Theinfrastructures which are mainly found at the shoreline are sovulnerable to the Index Maps which showed the following: 43% of theU.S. shorelines are covered by the coastal storms and also to thelong term sea level rises. The data which was obtained by the NOAAEnvironmental Sensitivity vegetation, followed by beaches at about18%, and rocky and flats at 15% each. The armored category representsapproximately 9% of the U.S. shoreline (Beazleyet al, 2012).

Levelof threat

The character of the oil thatstranded onshore was unique in relation to numerous different spillsin light of the fact that the oil was discharged at the seafloor,climbed through avaeragely 1,500 meters (m) of water, was dealt withby dispersants both subsea and at first glance, and must betransported by wind and ebbs and flows for 80–300 km through warmGulf of Mexico waters to achieve the shoreline (Beazley et al.,2012). The oil that in the long run stranded on the shoreline was asa thick, gooey emulsion, containing up to 60% water, rather thancrisp, liquid oil (White et al., 2012). Much of the time thisemulsified oil stranded as discrete patches, as opposed to aceaseless smooth. In bogs, the emulsified oil pooled at first glancewith little infiltration into the swampy soils.


Sea turtle are very vulnerable tothe exposure of chemicals which is as a result og direct consuming offood as well as inhalation. Around 102 species of birds live andsurvive around the shoreline and were affected by the oil spills. Itliterally soiled the habitats of the birds in Chandeleur islands. Itis also harmful to the invertebrates that live on the shores. It`salso toxic to marine and onshore plants such as sea grasses, wetlandvegetation and mangroves, which provide habitat and food for manyother species around. Survey method used included the SCAT data onoiling characteristics which was then routinely used for generatingmaps and tabular data on the oiling degree by the habitat with time.

There are three major types ofcosts of oil spills in this ecosystem. They include the cost forClean ups which comes after the spill, damages to the naturalresources which includes the cost of reinstating resources to theirprevious good condition and the Economic Costs which include tourismloss and local businesses interruptions

NearShore Benthonic Ecosystems

They are in habited bypredominantly mobile organisms which are still able to relocate intodeeper zones during the winter and the impact of ice is devastating.The conditions which are harsh in the shallow waters of the Antarcticshoreline facilitate a low-diversity community which mainly includesthese mobile organisms such as amphipods and isopods (White et al.,2012).

Threatposed by oil spills

The threat caused by oil spillsin the near shore benthonic ecosystem is very severe as it affectsmany species of organism and many times it leads to death of thoseorganisms. The species that are mainly affected by the oil spillsinclude amphipods and isopods. The type of survey used here is theinvolvement of the Sensitivity Index maps carried out in the Texascoast (Beazley et al.,2012). These maps were used during the oil spill planning response atthe near shore benthonic ecosystem.

Threemain cost types of oil spills include the Clean-up Costs whichinvolves the cleaning of the mess caused by the oil spills thedamages on the natural resources, including the cost of returningresources to their previous conditions and the Economic Costs whichis the major one in the economy it could lead to tourism and localbusinesses interruptions.

PhoticZones Ecosystem

These are the surface layer ofthe ocean which receives the light. It includes the uppermost 80m ofthe ocean. It is illuminated to allow photosynthesis.

TheThreat Posed By Oil Spills

The treat caused by oil spillsin this ecosystem is so huge that can affect the food chain of manyorganisms and hence leading to death. The species that are mainlyaffected by the oil spills include the sea turtle which willindirectly be affected when they consume food that is contaminated byoil (Thibodeaux et al.,2011). Sea plants are also affected as the will not be able to carryout photosynthesis hence leading to death. Fish is also at risk asthe oil would have covered the water surface leading to suffocation.

The types of survey used include:underwater survey technology, conventional SCUBA diving (30-40 M).The advances in technical diving methods and instrumentation areproviding easier access to studying these ecosystems. There are threemajor types of costs of oil spills which include the cost forClean-up after the oil spills is very high damages to the naturalresources this includes the cost of reinstating the resources totheir previous condition and the Economic Costs which involves lossof tourism and local businesses interruptions.


This ecosystem comprises of thebottom of the ocean or the sea the sediment surface and the subsurface. The kind of threat posed on this habitat by oil spills isvery severe and many a times lead to death through interfering withthe food chain of the animals. The reproduction of the species isalso affected hence posing a threat of extinction (Thibodeauxet al., 2011).

Species affected: there are manyspecies affected by the oil spills which include the isopod throughlack of light they may die of hypothermia. Deep sea plants throughlack of light they can`t manufacture their own food. The type ofsurvey used included the stereo-video which is towed body systemnormally used for the mapping of the habitat and surveying work ofthe biodiversity in the deep ocean to a depth of about100 to 2,000 mdepths (White et al., 2012).

There are three major types ofcosts of oil spills which include the cost for Clean-up after the oilspills is very high damages to the natural resources this includesthe cost of reinstating the resources to their previous condition andthe Economic Costs which involves loss of tourism and localbusinesses interruptions.


Beazley, M. J., Martinez, R. J.,Rajan, S., Powell, J., Piceno, Y. M., Tom, L. M., … &amp Sobecky,P. A. (2012). Microbial community analysis of a coastal salt marshaffected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. PloS one, 7(7), e41305.

Grattan, L. M., Roberts, S.,Mahan, W. T., McLaughlin, P. K., Otwell, W., &amp Morris, J. (2011).The early psychological impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill onFlorida and Alabama communities. Environmental health perspectives,119(6), 838-843.

Thibodeaux, L. J., Valsaraj, K.T., John, V. T., Papadopoulos, K. D., Pratt, L. R., &amp Pesika, N.S. (2011). Marine oil fate: Knowledge gaps, basic research, anddevelopment needs A perspective based on the Deepwater Horizonspill. Environmental Engineering Science, 28(2), 87-93.

White, H. K., Hsing, P. Y., Cho,W., Shank, T. M., Cordes, E. E., Quattrini, A. M., … &amp Fisher,C. R. (2012). Impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on adeep-water coral community in the Gulf of Mexico. Proceedings of theNational Academy of Sciences, 109(50), 20303-20308.