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. Jim

    I wonder how much money in grants these "scientists" will now get...just sayin. I'm sure they'll be employed for years to come, and they'll just have more and more bad news for us, leading to more and more tests...which will do: absolutely nothing.

    August 17, 2010 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. IceT

    What were their findings PRIOR to the spill? Without before & after data you can't have a proper conclusion.

    August 17, 2010 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. georgiegirl

    No big surprise.....the effects will last for a long, long, time...I wouldn't be so quick to tell people that the shrimp are safe to eat, either...I feel for the people, animals, sea life, and everyone that will be affected by the oil spill.

    August 17, 2010 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Fred

    So with Obama's boot on the throat from day one, not allowing the press to cover the story, then deeming seafood from the Gulf is safe to eat, now a little blip of a story about how it's this the hope or the change part ?

    August 17, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. r

    Gosh, I'm getting tired and thought the headline said "Toxic orgasms found on Gulf floor" and wondered which celebrity it was about.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Debbie

    Let's talk more about those dispersants.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Franky

    The resulting blue flu will kill millions of Americans.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mike -- Corexit[1] is a product line of solvents primarily used as a dispersant for breaking up oil slicks. It is produced by Nalco Holding Company which is associated with BP and Exxon.[2] Corexit is the most-used dispersant in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with COREXIT 9527 having been replaced by COREXIT 9500 after the former was deemed too toxic.[3] Oil that would normally rise to the surface of the water is broken up by the dispersant into small globules that can then remain suspended in the water.[4]

    August 17, 2010 at 10:43 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Boatfoot

    Duh... More oil seeps naturally out of the floor of the Gulf each year than from the spill (every year for thousands of years). Any toxic marine organism existed before this spill, just someone decided to look for them.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chuie Dixon

    I think that oil (toxic organisms) has been sitting at the buttom Gulf Floor long before the latest spill, doesn't the gulf produce a massive amounts of oil. I think in a few months all this will be nothing but a memory.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. happy2b

    Perhaps just sitting quietly for a moment. Appreciating this gift of life. Recognizing how fragile it all is. In the present moment we are still all alive. Everything is impermanent, everything.Praying there is a planet earth for your children to live out their lives. "With mindfulness we smile", search yourself.

    August 17, 2010 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jimmy Cracks Corn

    Until 20 million tonnes of fish and shrimp and by-catch wash up dead on Gulf Coast shores the Denialists will never believe oil is toxic to the environment. They will never believe science, only in an invisible genie in the sky, and the fallibility of man. The only way they will ever except the truth of the danger is after the risk has been parlayed into the destruction of an entire ecosystem. Denialists are ALL IN on mankind's industrialist activities being a benign presence on the planet.

    August 17, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boatfoot

      Keep us posted, it would be an interesting view to see 20 million tonnes of fish and shrimp wash up dead on the Gulf Coast shores.

      August 17, 2010 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Lee Oates

    Given the fact that they are finnally admitting to the death of phytoplankton, maybe its time to seriously start measuring the potential drop of oxygen in the near future and release that to the public.

    August 17, 2010 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Drew

    Does anyone reading this blog even care about the oil spill in Africa that was over twice the size of the Gulf Spill? Anyone concerned about the environmental impacts there, where the costs of cleaning up the spill are doubled because of lack of infrastructure and technology? Oh wait, it wasn't OUR's all good. Think global, be global. What's the point of being on the winning side of a battle for finite resources, it's going to run out anyway. Instead, use what we have left cooperatively to find solutions so we can argue over things that really matter, like the color of currency and which celebrity is cooler than the other...

    August 17, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  15. vince

    Didn't Obama (or was it Gibbs) that said the oil in the gulf was gone? I guess its the old 'out of sight, out of mind' thing - as long as noone can see, then its all fixed (nevermind that it's all over the bottom of the Gulf).

    August 17, 2010 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
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