How Bad is the Gulf Oil Spill Really?

The shocking images that prove the bottom of the Gulf is STILL dead and coated in oil – despite BP claims all will be well

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 8:09 AM on 21st February 2011

Oil from the BP spill remains stuck on the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a top scientist.

Samantha Joye has video and slides that she says demonstrate the oil isn’t degrading as hoped and has decimated life on parts of the sea floor.

That report is at odds with a recent report by the BP spill compensation czar that said nearly all will be well by 2012.

Deep impact: A December 1, 2010 slide from the University of Georgia shows a dead crab with oil residue on the still-damaged sea floor about 10 miles north of the BP rig in the Gulf of MexicoDeep impact: A December 1, 2010 slide from the University of Georgia shows a dead crab with oil residue on the still-damaged sea floor about 10 miles north of the BP rig in the Gulf of Mexico

At a science conference in Washington today, Joye, a professor at the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site.

She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn’t.

‘There’s some sort of a bottleneck we have yet to identify for why this stuff doesn’t seem to be degrading,’ Joye told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington.

Her research and those of her colleagues contrasts with other studies that show a more optimistic outlook about the health of the gulf, saying microbes did great work munching the oil.

‘Magic microbes consumed maybe 10 per cent of the total discharge, the rest of it we don’t know,’ Joye said, later adding: ‘there’s a lot of it out there’.

The head of the agency in charge of the health of the Gulf said today that she thought that ‘most of the oil is gone’.

The enduring cost of the spill: Another image from the <strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>University of Georgia</strong>‘s submersible Alvin shows dead brittle stars. Brittle stars are normally bright orange and wrapped around coral; these are pale and limp” src=”http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2011/02/20/article-1358861-0D45B4EB000005DC-686_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ />The enduring cost of the spill: Another image from the <strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>University of Georgia</strong>‘s submersible Alvin shows dead brittle stars. Brittle stars are normally bright orange and wrapped around coral; these are pale and limp</div>
<p>And a Department of Energy scientist, doing research with a grant from <strong class='StrictlyAutoTagBold'>BP</strong> from before the spill, said his examination of oil plumes in the water column show that microbes have done a ‘fairly fast’ job of eating the oil.</p>
<p><a class=Lawrence Berkeley National Lab scientist Terry Hazen said his research differs from Joye’s because they looked at different places at different times.

Joye’s research was more widespread, but has been slower in being published in scientific literature.

In five different expeditions, the last one in December, Joye and colleagues took 250 cores of the sea floor and travelled across 2,600 square miles.

Is he wrong? BP oil spill fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg at a town hall meeting in Louisiana last week. He has claimed the Gulf will be almost fully recovered by 2012Is he wrong? BP oil spill fund administrator Kenneth Feinberg at a town hall meeting in Louisiana last week. He has claimed the Gulf will be almost fully recovered by 2012

Some of the locations she had been studying before the oil spill on April 20 and said there was a noticeable change. Much of the oil she found on the sea floor – and in the water column – was chemically fingerprinted, proving it comes from the BP spill.

Joye is still waiting for results to show other oil samples she tested are from BP‘s Macondo well.

She also showed pictures of oil-choked bottom-dwelling creatures. They included dead crabs and brittle stars – starfish like critters that are normally bright orange and tightly wrapped around coral.

These brittle stars were pale, loose and dead. She also saw tube worms so full of oil they suffocated.

‘This is Macondo oil on the bottom,’ Joye said as she showed slides. ‘This is dead organisms because of oil being deposited on their heads.’

Joye said her research shows that the burning of oil left soot on the sea floor, which still had petroleum products.

And even more troublesome was the tremendous amount of methane from the BP well that mixed into the Gulf and was mostly ignored by other researchers.

Joye and three colleagues last week published a study in Nature Geoscience that said the amount of gas injected into the Gulf was the equivalent of between 1.5 and three million barrels of oil.

‘The gas is an important part of understanding what happened,’ said Ian MacDonald of Florida State University.

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