Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Oil Spill Activity: Sorting the Gulf Ecosystem

Illustration: A painting of the layers of flora and fauna in the Gulf of Mexico.The rich habitats of the Gulf of Mexico help make it one of the most ecologically and economically productive bodies of water in the world. Its environments range from sandy, ever-shifting barrier islands to muddy, tide-washed marshes, from frigid dark zones miles deep to immense islands of floating seaweed. Even before the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion on April 20, 2010, which spewed millions of barrels of oil into the water, the Gulf was battling serious problems, including overfishing, extensive wetlands loss, and a huge oxygen-starved "dead zone" at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The oil spill is affecting every habitat, testing the Gulf's resilience.

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