NEW FINDINGS ALARM SCIENTISTS: Spans of Dead Coral Covered in Brown Substance Found 7 Miles from BP Macondo Well


We’ve known for a while that the enormous BP oil spill would have a devastating impact on ocean life, including coral, and now one of the first major examples of that fact may be surfacing seven miles from the Deepwater Horizon site.

Reports the Times-Picayune out of New Orleans: “A brown substance is killing coral organisms in colonies located 4,600 feet deep about seven miles southwest of the failed BP Macondo oil well, according to scientists who returned Thursday from a three-week cruise studying coral reefs in the northern Gulf of Mexico.”

According to the TP, the “finding is the first case in which researchers have found evidence that living organisms in the deepwater area near the well site might have been killed by oil from the spill.” The discovery is of particular importance because of the critical role coral plays in the ecosystem of the Gulf.

The announcement came from NOAA, which makes me suspect they were just getting out in front of this story before being embarrassed (again) by independent scientists – who continue to break news about the ongoing impacts of the spill.

This particular fact-finding effort, NOAA says, was not specifically to research oil spill impacts. Among other things, they were looking into how oil rigs become a sort of artificial reef habitat (because apparently that’s what’s truly important in the wake of the worst environmental disaster in our history). But onboard the research vessel were scientists from Penn State, LSU, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Temple University, Florida State University, the U.S. Geological Survey, PAST Foundation, T.D.I Brooks International and C&C Technologies.

My guess is this is the first of many such findings and NOAA is just getting into its “spin cycle” a bit early this time around.

Check out the story here:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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