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. Luke

    Is this so hard to believe? I'm surprised that we haven't seen this sort of thing sooner, honestly.

    August 17, 2010 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. james

    As sad as this is for me to report, the so called experts cant be trusted. All they care about is money..they dont care about your health. Yesterday it was reported a level of Benzine in shrimp in the gulf..a low amount, but still a detectable amount. This story came and went very quickly, so take your own health into your own hands.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. cel

    Petroleum is toxic, what do we expect ? That it will go away all by itself ? It may be millineums before the gulf is safe again as a food source. Moreover, each time a tropical storm or hurricane comes thru the gulf, the toxins will be stirred up again. Petroleum isn't safe, in any form. We need to get away from using this stuff and go to other sources, mostly renewable and make BP and it's partners clean up this mess, and put the employees responsible in jail for a long time.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mathews

    To John C: Before you criticize anyone why don't you use " spell ckeck" or learn how to spell some simple words. Look up : challanging,teh,dislaim,rediculous,guld,feild and orther. These are the words you used in your rant. The repeated errors are not just typos.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MOJO

    How ignorante can you be to think t that much OIL wont have any effect on life in and around the Gulf .And years from now how will it effect you children .Ya everything will be just fine you cant believe those Scientists you can only believe what your corporate masters tell you is fact. They dont care if your kids get sick and die as long as no one tells them what to do .

    August 17, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. CapitalistAL

    Petroleum is not toxic it is bad for life when they are covered in it. In it's unrefined state petroleum is as natural a part of the earth as the water in the ocean, it just does not belong in the ocean. It regularly spills into the ocean through deep undersea vents that are not man made and the ocean takes care of it. This too will pass. The only thing that will keep this in the news into next year is people looking for a handout or scientist looking for grant money to do a study.

    Most of the frozen shrimp that we eat in this country come from China the most polluted nation on this planet, with virtually no regulation. I would sooner eat out of the gulf I am much more comfortable with shrimp that have been around a little bit of spilled petroleum than heavy metals and toxic refined chemicals as in Chinese shrimp.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • TomKas

      Common sense prevails! Thank you.

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

    you people are all pathetic

    August 17, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Shrimp lover

    Well for those who doubt whether the shrimp is toxic or can eat a big plate of it and then we can test you every year to see if you die or develop cancer? If you are ok in five years, then I will believe you!!!

    August 17, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • TomKas

      Don't forget to test those who sit in traffic on the way to work every morning of the work week....You can use them as a control group but I think you will find that they are more likely to get cancer, than from eating shrip in the Gulf. LOL

      August 17, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  9. hal2001

    Not surprised in the least with latest scientific findings.
    The real surprise is all the BS being fed to the American public by the spin masters, the US government and BP. How gullible do they think Americans are, especially after the barage of silly statements they've made since the explosion in April?
    Here's a taste of the latest spin:
    July 20/FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg :“Through close coordination with our state and federal partners, we are confident all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure that seafood harvested from the waters being opened today is safe and Gulf seafood lovers everywhere can be confident eating and enjoying the fish and shrimp that will be coming out of this area."
    Early August/White House energy adviser Carol Browner : "More than three-quarters of the oil is gone. The vast majority of the oil is gone."
    August 16/ A voice of reason-University of Georgia marine scientist Chuck Hopkinson :"Where has all the oil gone? It hasn't gone anywhere. It still lurks in the deep."
    My personal fav
    BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles : "They wouldn't open these waters ... if it wasn't safe to eat the fish." He said he would eat Gulf seafood and "would serve it to my family."

    August 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Sammy

    Sadly the gulf is a toxic wasteland! Where else would all of those millions of gallons of oil go?? Geez...the oil is still there people and I hope our Government, that I have lost faith in, makes good on their promise to clean it all up...for all of our sakes!

    August 17, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • TomKas

      Sammy, the millions of gallons of oil got mixed in with the 650 quitrillion gallons of gulf water. Millions have six zeros, quintrillions has fifteen zeros and there are 650 of them. The oil was a drop in the bucket,.... Not even that much. In a bucket of water, it was a spec. Quit acting like 10% of the gulf is oil now. Jeeez It was the equivalent of 4 oil takers. compared to the whole gulf of Mexico. Wake up people!

      August 17, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Kris in AL


    August 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Susanne

    Did the American public REALLY buy the garbage story the media was feeding you that the water was miraculously clean? What a load of B.S. It took years to clean up after the Exxon Valdez...and now they want you to believe that the water is clean as a whistle...mere weeks after they plugged the leaking oil. Oh yeah...and they say no oil is leaking which is probably another lie. Wonder hwo much is still leaking, and I wonder how much was really spilled? I'd say we can safely triple the estimates we've heard on the news. Bad enough that this happened. Now we have media/Government lying to us like we are complete imbeciles. Pathetic. Pathetic but typical.

    August 17, 2010 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lloyd Cata

    Bbluaghghgh.....that's the sound of ocean microbes overdosed on oil. It's one thing to stuff yourself on Christmas turkey, and quite another to drown in a bathtub full of cranberry sauce. Never at any point would you accuse the chef, so BP has served up a sumptuous meal of oil and dispersants which are now presented a food for microbes which are food for other life forms.

    Reports that BP is threatening fishermen who expose tainted seafood is the first sign of what's to come.

    August 17, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. nic weathersbee

    first- ryan works for BP, that's obvious.
    second- BP lies about everything to do with this catastrophe.
    third- if you want relevant info, go to the FB Boycott BP page, we have been screaming for months about corexit.
    fourth- oil does float, until you spray dispersant on it....then it sinks and becomes A PART of the food chain.
    fifth- ryan, ixtoc was not bigger than deepwater....although the clowns used the same crappy "methods" to stop it, took them 9 months....with terms like "sombrero" and "junk shot" and "top kill" all being employed...and ixtoc was in 200 ft of water....and they still couldn't stop it.
    sixth- FUBP, fu transocean, FU haliburton, FU tony hayward, FU coast guard, FU fat allen, and a BIG FU to any cops that helped BP strip us of our rights

    August 17, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. merecat

    Just where did they think it all went??!

    August 17, 2010 at 6:46 pm | Report abuse |
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