Dead Coral Found Near BP Oil SpillNov 5, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP
Just 7 miles from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, scientist are finding dead and dying coral. Not surprisingly, the BP oil spill is considered a prime suspect in the coral die-off.
Scientist aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) ship Ronald H. Brown, just returned Thursday from a three-week cruise studying coral reef in the northern Gulf of Mexico, according to Nola.com. The coral expedition was planned before the oil spill, so its purpose was not to assess the disaster's impacts, but it did give the researchers a good look at seafloor life near the spill zone.
They reported that soft coral in a 15-meter to 40-meter area was covered by what appeared to be a brown substance. Ninety percent of 40 large corals were heavily affected and showed dead and dying parts and discoloration, according to the scientists.
Another site 400 meters away had a colony of stony coral that showed the same symptoms. According to a press release issued by the team, they “observed dead and dying corals with sloughing tissue and discoloration.”
In addition to the NOAA, the cruise was co-sponsored by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Scientists from Penn State University, Louisiana State University, 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 participated in the cruise.
The scientist did not reach any conclusions about what may be causing the problems with coral at the two sites where they were observed. They await tests that will tell them whethe the brown substance is oil, and whether it came from the ruptured well.
The ship stopped at several locations in a triangular area along the deep slope of the Gulf about 200 miles off the coasts of Mississippi, Alabama and westernmost Florida before returning to port in Pensacola. It should be noted, the team observed no changes at most other coral locations this year.