A Decade Later, the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Has Left an Abyssal Wasteland
Nunnally shuffled down to the vessel’s control room to see what the ROV found. In his years as a deep sea biologist, he has learned that disasters like this take a long time to recover from, and that the deep site would likely still be dramatically affected by the spill. “Nothing prepared us for what we saw,” he says: a slick black wasteland, empty of all its usual denizens, such as sea cucumbers and giant isopods. Instead, the area had been taken over by strange crabs and shrimp, either tumor-ridden or eerily languid, as if sleepwalking across the seafloor. The typically white marine snow—detritus that had drifted down from organisms living above—was jet black and clumped up. It was clear that the site was toxic, and maybe irrevocably marred, according to the study the LUMCON team published recently in Royal Society Open Science.