So if we could just put the dead zone and the oil spill together...
A big factor slowing oil breakdown is that oil doesn't contain much nitrogen or phosphorus, both of which are needed for good bacterial growth. Enter bioremediation, where fertilizer is added to encourage natural bacteria. First tried in the 1960s, it evidently works. One 2002 study showed that adding just 0.25 percent fertilizer to oil on a lab-simulated beach quintupled the natural biodegradation rate. Tests in 1994 in Delaware Bay, which is already rich with bacterial nutrients, showed fertilizer doubled the rate of oil degradation in shallow waters. The same year, scientists fighting a spill on a beach near Haifa, Israel, reported that bioremediation had reduced oil contamination 88 percent in just four weeks.
From the Straight Dope, answering the question, "Did nature clean up most of the Exxon Valdez oil spill?" The conclusion:
Do oil spills mostly go away on their own? Yes. Does that mean we’re better off leaving them alone? Of course not.

1 comment:

  1. We can grow friendly microbes to supplement nature's ability to break down the oil. Also, we can grow diatoms to supply needed oxygen to the water for bioremediation, or just general ecosystem health.

    I am compiling a list of bioremediation products at my page, "Organic Cures." The most unusual one I have found so far is a NASA discovery using bee's wax. Check on Youtube for the keywords "NASA PRP, Petroleum Remediation Product." You will find a video clip from a History Channel documentary about it.