Ever since the BP oil spill was contained and plugged, people have been asking and wondering where all the oil went, and whether it would have an adverse effect on the marine life in and around the Gulf of Mexico.
A new study headed by Dauphin Island Sea Lab’s Dr. William “Monty” Graham published Monday in the journal Environmental Research Letters, has found that much of the oil has already and quickly entered the food web.
“Recently, much has been made of where the oil went,” Dr Grapham said. “Because of the magnitude of the spill, the fact that the oil seemed to have ‘disappeared’ so quickly made many people uncomfortable with the unprecedented use of chemical dispersants to move the oil from its floating form on top of the water to micro-droplets within the water.”
The researchers found that non-toxic compounds from the oil spill had worked their way into the base of the food chain. “We showed with little doubt that oil consumed by marine bacteria did reach the larger zooplankton that form the base of the food chain. These zooplankton are an incredibly important food-source for many species of fish, jellyfish and whales,” says Graham.
It is harder to determine what has happened to the toxic compounds resulting from an oil spill, but Graham believes that the search for the oil needs to involve searching physical locations as well as “the shadows of where the oil once was” as found in the food web.