August 17th, 2010
11:59 AM ET

Scientists: Toxic organisms, oil found on Gulf floor

John Paul says, at first, he couldn't believe his own scientific data showing toxic microscopic marine organisms in the Gulf of Mexico. He repeated the field test. A colleague did his own test. All the results came back the same: toxic.

It was the first time Paul and other University of South Florida scientists had made such a finding since they started investigating the environmental damage from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The preliminary results, the scientists believe, show that oil that has settled on the floor is contaminating small sea organisms.

Paul is a marine microbiologist with the University of South Florida. He and 13 other researchers were in the middle of a 10-day research mission that began August 6 in the Gulf of Mexico when they made the toxic discovery.

The researchers battled 12-foot waves and storms but returned to St. Petersburg, Florida Monday night.

We were there as the team pulled its research materials into the lab and got the first report back of their initial findings.

The researchers found micro-droplets of oil scattered across the ocean floor and they also found those droplets moving up through a part of the Gulf called the DeSoto Canyon, a channel which funnels water and nutrients into the popular commercial and recreational waters along the Florida Gulf Coast.
The scientists say even though it's getting harder to see the oil the Gulf is still not safe.

"This whole concept of submerged oil and the application of dispersants in the subsurface and what are the impacts that it could have, have changed the paradigm of what an oil spill is from a 2-dimensional surface disaster to a 3-dimensional catastrophe," said David Hollander, a chemical oceanographer and one of the lead scientists on the recent USF mission.

Reports focus on lingering effects of Gulf Oil spill

soundoff (315 Responses)
  1. Trench Mauser

    Ryan is right. Oil is the best.
    I suggest we drink it instead of beer.
    That will keep us alive a bit longer.
    Planet's overpopulated anyway.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Robin

    I think they have evolved their own ways of dealing with their little oil situations. 🙂

    August 17, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Zim

    HAHA!!!! The parties in 2012 are gonna be so insane.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Sean

    Best post yet Tiffany, go get em =)

    August 17, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Fla Cane Fan

    So, Rush was wrong. What a big friggin surprise.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. LiberalNN

    Didn't our wonderful government recently tell us that only 25% of the oil remained? The Obama administration lying or getting it wrong yet again.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Davespop

    Gee, this morning the headline for this was that it was a possibility. Now it's a certainty. Is it a slow news day?

    August 17, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Brandon

    You want to know where the oil went? Where did the trash go that gets tossed into the ocean? Mother nature takes it and whirls it into a ball in the middle of the ocean! Find the middle of the ocean and you will find the oil!

    Now, if you believe that you are silly.

    First oil does float, dispersants don't float. When mixed it will slowly settle to the bottom, but.......This is not where the oil is, you really want to know where the oil is? Look in your car, the roads, all plastic, etc.. etc... that is where your oil is! As for the Gulf oil, it was so minute that it really don't matter where the oil is, mother nature will take care, as she always does! Thank God, Buddha, Allah, who ever...for mother nature!

    August 17, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brandon

      Refined oil usually floats. Heavy crude often doesn't. And when the lighter parts evaporate it will definitely sink. If you think this oil is the same as every other kind of oil, feel free to replace olive oil in your recipes with it and see what happens.

      August 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Gopherit

    Not surprisingly, these findings after the U.S. government and BP blather as well as the area seafood "tests" claiming that there is no sign there of oil from the spill . . .

    August 17, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brandon

    Can we *please* get rid of the "oil is lighter than water" BS? REFINED oil is usually lighter than water, but not always, and this oil is most certainly not refined. It has a great many impurities which start off suspended with the rest of the oil on the surface, but as the lighter parts of the oil evaporates, the heavier parts sink. Also, the oil picks up dirt and debris from the water which would then make it heavier and sink. So YES, oil can sink. Let's all use our brains and not rely on simple (but incorrect) "laws of nature" you may be repeating from your parents. Pretend to be an adult. Please.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeremy

      Only about 10% of the oil recovered annually has an API of 10 degrees or less.....meaning that only 10% of the oil recovered annually has the ability to sink in water.

      August 17, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  11. landmammal72

    Believe it or not, oil and water DO mix – in the presence of surfactants, also called dispersants. Surfactants (dispersants) have a hydrophobic (oil-like) part AND a hydrophilic (water-like) part. Some surfactants (sodium lauryl sulfate/sodium dodecylsulfate, usually) are in most dish soaps, laundry detergents, shampoos, soaps, etc. The surfactants/dispersants make little microscopic droplets called micelles. The inside is oil-like and dissolves oils and fats. The outside is charged and is solvated by water. This happens in milk, as well, where the fats are suspended in the water by naturally-occurring surfactants – it's why milk is white – the little droplets scatter light. The dispersants/surfactants in Corexit are unknown us lay-people (i.e., not working for BP), but it would be easy to make surfactants/dispersants that, for example, were chlorinated. This would make the little droplets of oil+ dispersant HEAVIER than (more dense than, really) water, so they don't float to the surface, instead, they would sink to the bottom. Hmmm... Why would BP want that to happen? Of course, most chlorinated compounds are highly toxic to most forms of life, even in concentrations we can't easily measure, so it probably wouldn't be a great idea to use them willy-nilly. BP is counting on the vastness of the oceans to cover for any deleterious effects, and it will probably work. Try proving in court that the reduction in shrimp harvests for the next decade or more is due to Corexit and not due to the numerous other possible reasons.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Devon

    Hello people, this is far from breaking news!! I have read many disturbing articles about this catastrophe since it started and it is far from over! For all of you who think the oil has magically vanished, you are in for a rude awakening! You don't want to accept the truth until CNN finally breaks their silence and still some of you don't believe it. The entire Gulf is a dead zone, it's killing ocean life by the billions, and making people sick. The organisms that eat crude don't eat Corexit by the way. The waters of the Gulf are extremely poisonous to all and things will get worse. Believe what you want if it makes you sleep better at night, I prefer truth! This catastrophe is far from over, be warned, ignorance is not bliss in this situation. Get educated before opening your foolish mouths. Last but not least, GET OUT OF THE GULF while you still have a fighting chance!!!! Peace and Be Well.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. SmarterHuman

    I wouldn't eat Gulf Seafood if you paid me $1,000,000.

    August 17, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  14. A. Nohimuss

    Simply amazing how you people defending BP have forgotten your 9th Earth Science. If bacteria is eating the oil mixed with dispersants, then obviously something will eat the bacteria. Something will eat that, and so on and so on until YOU are eating it. A carcinogen is still a carcinogen by any other name. But please, by all means, continue to think that this is just hunky dory, and that anyone concerned is just a fear monger. I don't put any value on what any of you say whatsoever so go ahead and froth at the mouth. Maybe you'll have a coronary before you die of cancer? One can only hope

    August 17, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jake Midnite

    To Zeta411–You ARE joking, right???

    August 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
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