Oil began washing up on the shores of Brazil in August, sparking an ongoing environmental disaster that continues to impact coastlines and marine life. The origin of the spill is still debated, but scientists warn the negative impacts will be persistent.

Fernanda Duarte Amaral is a biologist specializing in reef environments and a visiting professor in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University. She is studying the impacts of the oil spill by comparing the DNA of coral populations from reefs in northeastern Brazil, before and after the spill occurred. She says there will be long-term environmental impacts as a result of the spill.

Duarte Amaral says:

“The crude oil spill off the coast of Brazil has become an environmental disaster and has affected more than 2,000 km of the Brazilian coast from the northeastern State of Maranhão down to the coast of Rio de Janeiro. The oil began to arrive on Paraíba State in August and continues today. While many explanations have emerged regarding the source of the oil over the past four months there is still no concrete proof of its origin.

“The phenomenon has affected the life of marine animals and plants causing impacts on coastal cities. Concerns for nature and the communities that make their living from these ecosystems are numerous and many of the impacts are irreversible. Although the total impact of oil has not yet been calculated, it may be among the largest, if not the largest, ever seen in Brazil and the disappearance of living beings in the affected areas will have short, medium- and long-term impacts to all marine life and for man.”

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