As I prepare an update to this Discover piece re: the development of a process to harness American ingenuity and apply it to help fix an immediate, national crisis (e.g. the Deepwater Horizon disaster), I came across this statement from the Society of Wetland Scientists. I found it enlightening; you might, too.
Highlights, scientific literature on the effects of oil on wetlands:
The Deepwater Horizon disaster and wetlands
Statement from the Environmental Concerns Committee
Society of Wetland Scientists
Coastal wetlands are essential components of healthy and productive coastal fisheries, and nowhere within the lower 48 states has the critical linkage between wetlands and fisheries resources been more clearly demonstrated than in the Gulf Mexico (e.g., Chesney et al. 2000, Crain et al. 1979). Louisiana alone, for example, generates 30% of the nation’s seafood production (Day et. al., 2005) and accounts for 40% of the total wetlands in the conterminous United States (Richardson and Pahl 2006). The ongoing loss of wetland resources in the Gulf of Mexico and the potential economic and environmental costs, especially in Louisiana and Florida, is an issue of international concern. The impacts of the current oil spill are unknown but the potential for direct and indirect environmental damage to coastal ecosystem services are extraordinary. Both the oil and the activities used in the cleanup have the potential to adversely affect wetland flora and fauna.
Thus far, most of the oil has remained offshore but reports of oil reaching the coast have been geographically extensive ranging from Florida to Louisiana. The potential geographic extent of the spill could result in the exposure of many types of coastal wetlands to oil, ranging from mangroves in Florida, Texas, Mexico and islands in the Caribbean basin to tidal freshwater wetlands along the Gulf Coast. Most wetlands that will potentially be exposed to oil are saline and brackish tidal wetlands, which are nursery grounds for economically important coastal fish and shellfish. Seagrass beds are also at risk. Read more.