This question would be better phrased if directed at one specific target. If we are discussing BP and other businesses, then clearly the worst thing to happen was the lost of profits and the amount of money spent on cleanup efforts and lawsuits. If we are talking about the local communities, then it would be fair to say that the health risks brought on by contamination of local fisheries and water sources, the handful of deaths, and the ongoing damage to local Gulf economies are all detrimental. However, if we are discussing fisheries, then the biggest threat would be the significant reduction in biodiversity, especially since the Gulf of Mexico is a significant breeding ground for several different species of animal (most notably the Atlantic bluefin tuna). It should be noted that several endangered species (including the critically endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle) also reside in the Gulf. Crustaceans and marine mammals have also been significantly affected as well as coral reefs. The initial death count does very little to indicate the long-term damage given that the oil spill led to a wide-spread distribution of petroleum throughout the ocean.
Nevertheless, government agencies such as the NOAA have constantly reassured the safety of gulf seafood. But, recent reports and peer-reviewed studies have claimed otherwise
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