In the face of the current ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, it is important to remember: regardless of this or any other similarly catastrophic mishap, oil and the oceans will be linked for many decades to come. It is a fact of life; there are no instant energy alternatives. Offshore platform production and global transport of oil by tankers and seafloor pipelines will remain essential to supplying the world's energy needs.
There will always be spills, and even without them, there will always be hydrocarbons staining the Earth's oceanic realms. It is therefore useful to strive for some context regarding accidents such as the tragic BP Deepwater Horizon spill.
Compared to refined petroleum products such as fuels and lubricants, crude oil is a natural substance. Refined products have a wide variety of chemical additives that make them far more toxic in the case of spills. Crude spills do have toxicity, but to a much smaller degree.