one year ago yesterday, the entire gulf coast changed forever. bp's deepwater horizon oil rig exploded, killing 11 innocent workers and dumping close to 200 million gallons of crude oil into the beautiful gulf of mexico. we stood by and watched helplessly as mistake after mistake was made. officials promised us that it "wasn't that bad" and "we'll have it back to normal in no time". as if the loss of human life wasn't bad enough, reports started pouring in of sea life and birds being suffocated and stranded by the thick brown oil. it didn't seem real at the time, and we couldn't even begin to imagine the repercussions down the road. as a culture based on tourism and seafood, what would we do to survive? our seafood was oily and unfit to eat, and no one wanted to step foot on our once white sandy beaches now covered in sheets of sticky slimy oil. beach vacation cancellations were at an all time high. coastal cities became virtual ghost towns. the smell was almost unbearable.. like a mix between an old car's exhaust and new pavement being laid. it was enough to literally burn the inside of your nose and give you a massive headache at the same time.
now, a year later, we're entering the beginning of tourist season. people are starting to return to our beaches. will it make up for the losses of last year? probably not. but it's a step in the right direction. while most of the country has moved on from this disaster, it's still in the forefront of everybody's minds down south. here's what they're not telling you:
approximately 80% of the oil from the spill is still in the gulf of mexico. it's not on the surface anymore, so the old saying goes.. out of sight, out of mind. it's absolutely destroying our ecosystems. the animals that call the gulf of mexico home are extremely threatened.
scientists still haven't been able to determine the toxicity of the dispersant used to break up the oil from the surface. here's what we do know.. it didn't work like they thought it would. not only that, but it's sticking around longer than they expected. hundreds of people who have come into contact with the dispersant have reported severe medical issues.
a largely increased number of dead dolphins are washing up on shore. they keep trying to tell us this isn't strange.. not only that, but surely it has nothing to do with the oil spill, right?
tar balls are still washing up on our beaches. skies that used to be full of pelicans and sea gulls are eerily empty. the long term effects are still unknown. bp can tell everybody that it's all hunky-dory, but we know the truth. southerners aren't slow and dumb, no matter the general public's perceptions. we're a culture.. a community.. built on a peaceful, simple, friendly way of life. and we're passionate. it's our home, how could we not be passionate about it?