We do not know the full effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil leak in the Gulf of México. Most of the surface oil deposits have been cleaned up and many of the coats have been cleaned up, but we cannot clean up the deep part of the ocean and indeed we are only just beginning to see how the oil spillage has affected the life that lives in this part of the ocean, known as the benthos.
Sea cucumbers, worms corals and sea fans all live on the ocean floor, but living on the ocean floor eating detritus is hard to do if the ocean floor is covered with a layer of oil, some of which is 10 cm (two and a half inches) thick in places. The benthos plants and animals die.
Having died those forms of life that eat the benthos life cannot find food and they themselves die. When Professor Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia had a look at the sea floor at depth using the Alvin submersible instead of seeing the usual life forms that live at depths they saw…no sign of life.
Once a link of the food chain is removed the remaining links higher in the chain have to find alternative food or die; there is usually no alternative food and this means over the next few years the Gulf Of México, described by BP as a big body of water which will recover from the oil spill by the end of next year, could be a sea desert.