Photo Courtesy ROFFS / JPL
The combination of wind, surf and time itself is having an impact on the oil slick in the Gulf. The most important revelation by oceanographers is the movement of the oil towards a natural super highway in the Gulf of Mexico. The southeastern portion of the oil slick is getting picked up by an eddy system that links to the loop current. The loop current is like a clockwise moving conveyor belt of water in the southeastern Gulf that links up with the Gulf Stream. The white arrows above depicts the loop current on May 16. The forecast animation below shows the eventual linkage to the Florida current and Gulf Stream along the eastern seaboard..
The implication is that once the oil reaches this warmer more buoyant super highway, it will travel to ecosystems up the Atlantic seaboard. The best news for the beaches according to experts is that the oil becomes weathered as it travels in this column of water and sinks to the ocean floor. The bad news is that once it reaches the ocean floor it impacts sea life like dolphin, sharks, snapper, grouper, tuna, sailfish, and more importantly plankton. Once plankton, the first organisms in the food chain is disrupted the others fall off in numbers as well. Chemical dispersant's are being used below the water surface near the source of the spill. This is significantly reducing the amount of oil reaching the surface, but potentially threatening more sea life by reducing the amount of oxygen they need to survive. We may not know the full impact that dispersant's have until NOAA completes it's analysis of the water samples they have taken below the surface of the water..