Oil Spill’s Real Threat Lies Beneath the Surface
By Philip Bethge
The Gulf of Mexico spill is vastly larger than the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989, but where is all the oil? While efforts to protect coastlines have been making the headlines, the real ecological catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is unfolding deep beneath the water’s surface.
Samantha Joye was sure she was right. Somewhere down there, the toxic clouds were sure to exist. And now she was holding the evidence in her hands. A thin film of oil glistened in one of the small sample bottles Joye had filled with water taken from more than 1 kilometer (3,300 feet) beneath the surface.
“You could see it. Everybody saw it,” Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia, wrote on her blog. Besides, the sample taken from the Gulf of Mexico smelled as if it had come directly from a gas station.
Joye made this important discovery a few days ago on board the research ship Walton Smith, near the location where the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig went up in flames on April 20.
The scientists are now referring to the site as “Ground Zero.” They have spotted oddly shaped “pancakes of oil” floating on the surface there, Joye reports, as well as “bizarre orange and black stringers, as deep in the water column as you could see.”