June 8th 2010 is World Ocean Day and this year our oceans are facing more than the usual challenges. In March, a Japanese oil tanker sank off the coast of Queensland, Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef, while in the Gulf of Mexico oil continues to spill from the Deepwater Horizon rig. In a sad twist of fate, June 8th marks the 50th consecutive day since the spill began and by most assessments this will be the worst oil accident in history. It might already be five times larger than the Exxon Valdez disaster off the coast of Alaska.
Since Deepwater Horizon blew its top on April 20, scientists estimate that between one million and four million gallons of oil has been gushing into the sea every day. As of June 4th, the New York Times estimates that the total amount of oil spilled so far is between 50 million and 100 million gallons.
Oil gushing out of Deepwater Horizon has already reached the Louisiana shore where it will soon meet the state’s wetlands, and now seems certain to reach the beaches of Florida. In the past week scientists have further predicted, based on models of ocean currents, that the oil may also move up the eastern seaboard and may even cross the Atlantic to Europe.
As a response to this environmental tragedy, our singular Reef Contributor, Dr Axt, has begun to make a black version of her Reefer Madness series of giant coral mounds. She calls this haunting black elagiac installation her crochet “island of shame”.