In a shocking development, scientists have discovered large underwater plumes of oil, one 10 miles long and a mile wide, in the Gulf of Mexico, following the April 20th Deepwater Horizon disaster.
One Georgia University expert has warned that oxygen levels had fallen 30% in some areas of the sea, and it could take decades to repair the damage.
Researchers from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology say they have detected several sprawling oil slicks lurking just beneath the surface of the sea and at depths of 4,000 ft.
The find suggests the scale of the potential environmental disaster is much worse than previously feared since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blew up on 20 April, killing 11 workers. Samantha Joye, a marine science professor at the University of Georgia, said: “It could take years, possibly decades, for the system to recover from an infusion of this quantity of oil and gas.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before. It’s impossible to fathom the impact.”
The experts say the oxygen depletion is likely to continue, endangering sea life and raising the prospect of underwater dead zones.
The scientists said the chemical dispersants BP has been dumping underwater may be preventing the oil from rising to the top of the ocean. If this is true, the scope of the disaster may only become apparent when there are massive die offs of marine life that could bring millions of tons of dead fish to the shores of the Gulf coast.