Friday, November 5, 2010
Dead and dying coral reefs in Gulf of Mexico blamed on April oil spill
News that large swaths of dying coral reefs have been found southwest of the wrecked oil rig responsible for the largest offshore spill in U.S. history should come as no surprise to anyone. Logic dictates that the effects of the colossal April 20 blowout and spill will be far-reaching and catastrophic, the protests of oil and fishing interests in the Gulf of Mexico notwithstanding. Scientists studying the spill's aftermath said the damage to the reefs was almost certainly due to exposure to toxic chemicals like oil, according to the New York Times. “I think that we have a smoking gun,” said Charles Fisher, a marine biologist from Pennsylvania State University heading a U.S. government-sponsored scientific mission to the Gulf. “The circumstantial evidence is very strong that it’s linked to the spill.” The damaged coral was found Tuesday by the government expedition, which launched a submersible robot to view the coral and obtain samples. Scientists expect to return to the Gulf floor in December using a Navy submersible that can carry three people to depths of 15,000 feet, the newspaper said. An estimated 5 million barrels of crude flowed into the Gulf for months after the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in April, killing 11 workers.