Wednesday, October 06, 2010

NatGeo's 'Layers of Life' looks at BP's Gulf disaster

The October issue of National Geographic focuses on The Spill, the common yet misleading name for the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. More than a "spill," the Macondo well is thought now to have spewed 60,000 barrels a day for almost three months before engineers finally capped it. That means close to 5 million barrels of oil entered the waters -- and the majority likely has not disappeared.
But the commission staff said that the government’s own data did not support such sweeping conclusions. A number of respected independent researchers have concluded that as much as half of the spilled oil remains suspended in the water or buried in seafloor and coastal sludge.
We're left to wonder how all of that oil will affect the many ecosystems within the gulf-- and for how long will the oil's effects continue. NatGeo addresses some of those questions with an incredible interactive graphic, Layers of Life. You'll find a frame-filling illustration divided into four zones: coastal ecosystems, bright surface, twilight zone, dark and teeming. Birders will note immediately the variety of bird species highlighted in the coastal ecosystems zone: Clapper Rail, Tricolored Heron, Wilson's Storm-Petrel, Royal Tern and Magnificent Frigatebird.

Wilson's Storm-Petrel courtesy of Glen Tepke/New England Seabirds

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