Researchers from the Florida State University found out that natural oil seep in a small amount can actually contribute to the growth in phytoplankton. They were trying to investigate the effect of oil spill on the microbial life in the Gulf of Mexico. The investigators discovered that the microbial life was two times denser in areas where oil was seeping naturally than the clear regions.
It is an important discovery as the food chain of the aquatic animals depends upon the healthy survival of the microbes.
According to them, it indicates that oil spill in a small amount can help in the growth of phytoplankton. The researchers were studying the amount of oil that seeps into the Gulf naturally and how much came from the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010 almost six years ago. They created a map showing where the oil was seeping actively in a natural way and also through the action of men. The scientists all over the world have been very much concerned about the environmental effects caused due to the 2010 spill.
Naturally occurring oil spills less dangerous
The research published recently online in the Journal of Geophysical Research Oceans has been used as the basis for a paper published in Nature Geoscience by the Columbia University researchers. The research was a comparison between the hazardous effect caused due to 4.3 million barrels release into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 due to oil spill and the annual release of 160,000 to 600,000 barrels/year due to naturally occurring seeps.
According to the lead author of this study and an oceanography expert with the Florida State University, Ian MacDonald, the new analytical data have enabled his teammates to understand the 2010 oil spill and its consequences in a different light. He said that even though the oil seeps that occur naturally show an effect for a longer term, the impact of man-made oil spills are more drastic as the oil flows out in greater concentration even though for a shorter span of time.