Zaire Travel on To measure restoration by man and nature, it is essential to know what life was like before the spill. Saltier than typical seawater and averaging 110 feet deep, the gulf is nevertheless rich. It is a unique region, noted for the productivity of its miles of blue, green, and gold intertidal sand flats and shallow sea grass meadows, studded here and there with dark algal and coral reefs and patches of mangroves. To the arid countries on its shores, the gulf is vital. Like a forest, it absorbs carbon dioxide, produces oxygen, influences temperature, wind, and rain. For millennia the diverse sea life has sustained enormous flocks of resident and migratory birds and people born in the cradle of civilization. To see what impact the oil had on marine life, I ventured at Abu Ali into bullion-colored water rimmed with blackened beaches. Zaire Travel 2016.