Gulf Disaster

Toxic Level of Oil in Key Area for Fish

Was everyone premature in declaring the Gulf oil spill “not so bad”? According to researchers at the University of South Florida, oil is so concentrated in one area of the Gulf that the water has become toxic to phytoplankton, an important food source for fish. Toxic levels of oil have been found in the DeSoto Canyon (in the northeastern section of the Gulf), a source of nutrient-rich waters and a crucial area for spawning fish. "We were able to detect sediments that had oil covering them," said the chief scientist on one research vessel. "It wasn't like a drape, don't get me wrong, like a blanket of oil; rather, it looked like a constellation of stars that were at the scale of microdroplets.” David Hollander says little droplets of oil are mixed with sediment in almost every area scientists looked at east of the now-capped BP oil well.