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. Fishermans Chef

    It is so important to keep the fishing waters clean so that people can fish and provide food and income for their families. Environmental cleanliness also also boosts the tourist industry. The oil companies need to be accountable and finish the job of cleaning up the disasters they create. What are they doing – and are they going to clean up the oil residues that sink to the bottom of the ocean?

    August 17, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. BE

    You people are all stupid!!!

    August 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bobohio

    In 1978 the us goverment banned asbestos use in many residential products. Yes, htat was a good thing; however, they decided that it might cause contractors to lose money so they were allowed to use any remaining stock they had on had to use, like that popconr celing you may see in someones home.

    The goverment, knowing full well it would kill people, decided your life is not as important as the livelyhood of some contractor.

    You are a slave to the collective, get over it.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Brian Finch

    Not surprising to read about this. This oil spill has permanently changed The Gulf in a negative un-natural way. There isn’t any good that can come out of this disaster, Thanks a bunch BP!!

    August 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  5. taxpaya

    the enviromentalist alarmist need to get better actor scientist. can anyone show the readings before the spill on how much oil was there.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

      (sorry – I missed)......Probably not the 40-75% of the 200,000,000 Gallons that is there AFTER the BLOWOUT. But no need to worry Blowout preventer technology is guaranteed to be Fail Safe.

      August 17, 2010 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse |
  6. walleye

    Going forward, ALL seafood from the Gulf (not just shrimp) needs to be tested before being sent to the public for consumption. I think this problem is going to be around for a long time. When they said a large amount of oil had disappeared, that just did not sound right to me unless Harry Houdini came back from the dead with some magic tricks.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. walleye

    Another reason the "drill baby drill" mentality needs to END NOW. We need to get away from fossil fuels and start using renewables. We have polluted the air, the sea and the ground we walk on. No wonder cancer and other diseases are so prevalent. We are now reaping what we have sown.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

      With their silver and gold they have made idols for themselves... how long will they be incapable of innocence? ...For they sow the wind, and they reap the whirlwind. HOSEA 8

      August 17, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

    Probably not the 200,000,000 Gallons that was there AFTER the BLOWOUT. But no need to worry Blowout preventer technology is guaranteed to be Fail Safe.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Interested

    Is this a blog or a real story? Is it really a catastrophy? What is the scientific evidence that proofs it is a catastrophy? I news outlets keep blowing things out of proportion they are quickly going to become the kid who cried wolf.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mrrusss

    My first reaction to all the mindless neocon drones ranting about how this is no problem, thanks to all of these microrganisms that love to eat crude oil, was that sometimes microorganisms are the worst things on the planet. I don't find it great that we may cause massive blooms of microorganisms that aren't normally as prevalent, and the types of organisms that like to eat crude oil don't sound necessarily like good things to create in abundance. Living near the ocean, I'm thinking of the periodic warnings we get about things like red tide, etc, which I wouldn't be surprised to find are increased by our careless activity in the oceans. To the most knowledgeable marine biologists out there, this is all an experiment to see how nature will react to such a colossal act of polution, and the only certainties are a lot of unforseen negative consequences.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan in Texas

      The red tide and "Dead Zone" are caused by fertilizer runoff.

      August 17, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ocean Chemist

      The link between red tide and fertilizer has not actually been confirmed. Dead zones, yes. Red tide, no. it looks like Karenia Brevis has been having blooms since before europeans colonized the Americas.

      August 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kevin Brooks

    You can thank you politicians for allowing BP to buy them out of having to meet proper safety measures. Now the people pay the price, and will continue to do so for a long time. I consider the politicians who allowed this to happen just as guilty as BP for corporate greed to trump safety and enviromental protection.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mrrusss

    You know what's worse to me than an extremist, Muslim, child-murdering terrorist, the kind of human waste that, in its self-absorbed obsession to promote its warped, greedy ideals, will pretend that it doesn't possess the common sense to know that, in an ecosystem that my cat, much less any 8th grader, knows is a delicate balance, hundreds of millions of gallons of oil spilled in the ocean, or millions of metric tons of CO2 pumped artificially into the atmosphere, or any other massive man-made pollution, might be likely to cause negative effects. This type of amoral creature is not only unAmerican but basically incompatible with the entire animal or plant kingdom.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JRC903

    The world is full of beneficial bacteria... advanced life forms would be impossible without it.. From the probiotics that live in people intestines.. to oil eating microorganism that live in the gulf of mexic0.. I doubt if it makes much sense to get all worried about them at this point. They have been here for longer then WE have...

    August 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  14. beasterdamas

    Toxix..Ya Think? Now all of these little sea life organisms are going to have to poop out all the oil and start eating wheat grass juice to cleanse!!!

    August 17, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. craig

    I know of at least four shrimp boats today, in the Grand Isle area, that pulled up nets and shrimp contaminated with oil. They dumped it back in the water and went home. I've feared all along that the dispersant was a bad idea. At least on the surface we would have had a fighting chance at burning or collecting the oil, not so when its drifting God knows where within the water column. The rig blowout was an accident, this dispersant deal was an intentional EPA approved catastrophe.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • mrrusss

      The best part for me was the use of one of the less desirable, more toxic dispersants in which BP had a financial stake. And yes the rig blowout was an accident. So is the crash caused by a drunk driver speeding and talking on a cell phone.

      August 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • TomKas

      i do not believe you craig

      August 17, 2010 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10