by AMBER KELLY Photographer
In the Port of Houston, two ships collided over the weekend, spilling up to 170,000 gallons of oil into Galveston Bay, which is connected to the Gulf of Mexico.
When oil spills occur, they pose many risks to the environment that they are contaminating. The United States is no stranger to oil spills, and now a new one can be added to the list that has been building the last couple of years.
After the spill, the port was closed as clean up efforts began immediately. Only limited traffic has been authorized in the port as of now.
Wildlife rescuers and environmental groups are attempting to see the impact the spill has had on the birds and other animals and sea life in the area. There have been sightings of multiple oiled birds, although only about 18 have been captured and 10 have turned up dead.
The United States Coast Guard is also looking into the spill, investigating its impact and what can be done to clean up the area. Many fishermen rely on the Galveston Bay for their product, which includes marine life such as shrimp, blue crab, and menhaden, a type of fish. The fishing industry is big in this bay, so it is important for clean up to be as efficient as possible, as both the environment and industry require it.
As reported by the Texas Tribune, “In 2012 … nearly 5.8 million pounds of fish were commercially harvested from Galveston Bay, at a combined wholesale value of $16.4 million.”
Therefore, it is vital for scientists to figure out the physical affect the oil spill has on the marine life in the bay.
“I hope they can get everything cleaned up soon. That much oil is a horrible amount of pollution and it’s sad if a lot of the animals die from it. Maybe if they can get it cleaned up enough in a short amount of time, then the overall impact won’t be too bad,” says senior Vincent Grassi.
Scientists are especially concerned about the shrimp in the bay, as now is the time they start to reproduce. The larvae from the current shrimp will go through the water until they are fully developed, but their destination will be the polluted water. Scientists worry that the new shrimp will not be able to survive.
Even if the shrimp do survive, chances are they will be contaminated by the oil in the bay; therefore, when other marine life ingest the shrimp, the contamination will continue on until many of the creatures in the water will have been contaminated.
“It seems like this oil spill could be really bad for industry. It sucks for the fishermen who rely on the bay for their income,” says senior Jason Bezerra.
Scientists will have to wait to see the full extent to which the marine life will be affected by the oil spill, as they need to observe the spawn of current shrimp and fish. All that can be done is a clean up on a large scale for the Galveston Bay.
With clumps of oil still polluting the water, wildlife experts and others are still volunteering their time for the sake of the environment.
What do you think the full extent of the damage from the oil spill will be?