Lady Darwin
15 April 2012 @ 11:44 AM

A few paragraphs from the article:

Even before BP managed to shut off the undersea flow on July 16, 2010, observers ranging fromTime magazine to Rush Limbaugh insisted that the ecological damage from the 4.9 million barrels of oil that spilled seemed far less severe than everyone had predicted.

But biologists are finding signs of lingering — and perhaps growing — damage throughout the gulf, from the bottom of the food chain to the top:

• Scientists have confirmed that tiny creatures called zooplankton accumulated toxic compounds from coming in contact with the Deepwater Horizon oil. Because small fish and crustaceans eat the zooplankton and are then eaten by larger fish, that means those compounds could now be working their way up the food chain, they said.

• Three months after BP shut off the flow of oil, scientists searching the floor of the gulf found a colony of deep sea corals that were covered in what they described as “frothy gunk.” They were in the area where undersea plumes of oil had been spotted. Nearly half were dead. Extensive tests resulted in a finding, released just last month, that the culprit was in fact oil from Deepwater Horizon.

• This month, crews from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fanned out to rivers across the coast to catch and take samples from sturgeon swimming upstream from the gulf to spawn. The reason: When scientists examined the sturgeon that swam upriver last year, they found “significant levels” of DNA fragmentation in the 300-pound fish that could have been caused by exposure to the oil spill, said wildlife service chief investigator Glenn Constant.

"It can lead to a number of abnormalities, such as cancer, tumors, challenges to their immune systems," Constant said. Reproduction could falter, too, he said.

• Biologists have become alarmed about how many bottlenose dolphins are washing ashore sick or dead across the gulf, from Texas to Florida — more than 600 during a time when the normal average is 74 a year. In Louisiana’s Barataria Bay, where waves of thick oil washed in throughout the spill, dozens of dolphins have been found suffering symptoms of liver and lung disease and possible immune system failures.

The journalist also interviewed geologist James Kirby about the oil and chemical dispersant that is still present on beaches were tourists and local people swim in the ocean, despite the innocuous look of the clean beaches. He shined a UV-light on the legs of a graduate student who had gone swimming and then taken a shower, and found this:

(Source: ladydarwin)

2 years ago