Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Horrible Mess from the BP Oil Spill...

I'm sure you remember all the screaming and hollering from just about everybody, a year or so ago, when the BP oil well was spewing millions of gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.  It seemed like the ultimate environmental disaster.  Numerous scientists were predicting things like 20 years of tainted, inedible fish and shellfish from the Gulf, or even the complete collapse of the Gulf's food chain and hundreds of years to recover.

But then a funny thing happened.  They lost the oil. That is, the scientists couldn't find the giant blob of oil that should have been left just a few weeks after the well was finally capped.  At first the assumption was that they really had simply lost it – couldn't find it with their instruments.  After all, the Gulf is a biggish place.  Then we heard that the oil must have fallen to the bottom and slithered to the lowest places in the Gulf, the hardest ones to explore.  But when they looked, it wasn't there.  In fact, wherever they looked, there was no oil.  The Gulf's recovery from the oil spill is already nearly complete, just one year later. 

What happened? 

I've been waiting for the first reports to come in from scientists who got past their embarrassment and actually figured it out.  Here's the first I've seen, and it says, basically, the microbes ate the oil.  Much, much faster than anyone predicted.

Mother Nature is an awesome lady...


  1. mmmmm tasty..... Hey, weren't there articles years ago about attempting to engineer microbes to eat oil? Looks like mother nature beat us to it?

  2. Mother Nature generally does beat us to it...