BP oil spill seriously harmed deep-sea corals, scientists warn

26 March 2012

Source: The Guardian

Author: Press Association

Deep sea corals appear to have been seriously harmed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, according to scientists.

A survey of one site near the well in the Gulf of Mexico uncovered "compelling evidence" of pollution damage. Coral communities more than 1,220 metres (4,000ft) below the surface of the ocean appeared stressed and discoloured.

Tests showed that oil from the site bore Deepwater Horizon's chemical "fingerprint".

Determining the impact of oil spills at the bottom of the ocean can be difficult because oil seeps naturally from cracks in sea floor.

The explosion, in April 2010, poured an estimated 405m litres (160m gallons) of oil into the Gulf, causing a major environmental disaster.

Scientists looked at 11 deep-water coral sites three to four months after the well head was capped.

Healthy coral was found at all locations more than 12 miles from the Macondo oil prospecting site, where the blowout occurred. But at one site, seven miles south-west of the well, coral colonies presented "widespread signs of stress", including bleaching and tissue loss. Almost half of the 43 corals observed at that site showed evidence of impact.

For more, go to: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/26/bp-oil-spill-deepwater-horizon