Under healthy conditions, multitudes of organisms and microorganisms populate the Gulf seafloor and provide oxygenation for sediment and food for other species. These creatures, which play a vital role in the aquatic food chain, were largely devastated by the oil disaster, though the issue has not been addressed. In time, this hidden devastation throughout the entire aquatic ecosystem will become apparent, and the end result will not be pretty.
“Filter-feeding organisms, invertebrate worms, corals, sea fans — all of those were substantially impacted — and by impacted, I mean essentially killed,” said Joye, concerning the damage. “Another critical point is that detrital feeders like sea cucumbers, brittle stars that wander around the bottom, I didn’t see a living (sea cucumber) around on any of the wellhead dives. They’re typically everywhere, and we saw none.”
The long-term effects of the absence of these creatures will be a loss of the many other creatures that live near the surface, which include many varieties of fish and other sea creatures that humans use for food. If these creatures ultimately die due to a major break in the food chain, fisheries around the Gulf will no longer be able to operate, and many species of Gulf fish could cease to exist.
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