A crude summer on the Gulf Coast?
Mon, 31 May 2010 10:36:45 GMT —
Instead of sunshine and sand, this could be the summer of oil at normally tourist-filled Gulf Coast beaches.
With BP making yet another attempt to stem the flow from a blown-out well - this time only to contain the leak - signs point to the completion of a relief well in August before any real end is in sight.
On top of that, hurricane season begins Tuesday and scientists worry a big storm could push a surge of oily water even deeper into delicate marshlands.
Scientists from several universities have reported large underwater plumes of oil stretching for miles and reaching hundreds of feet beneath the Gulf of Mexico's surface, but BP disputes that finding.
Louisiana Fisherman Tom Young calls it an apocalypse. He says a way of life is ending and "no one outside of these few parishes really cares. They say they do, but they don't do nothing but talk."
Meanwhile, Independent scientists and government officials say an unseen disaster is playing out in the Gulf of Mexico as the blown out well continues to gush oil. The mysterious depths are inhabited by everything from sperm whales to gigantic jellyfish, diminutive plankton and many fish.
Marine scientists say what happens in the deep Gulf can ripple across the food chain. Every night the denizens of the deep make forays to shallower depths to eat - and be eaten.
In turn, several species closest to the surface - including red snapper, shrimp and menhaden - help drive the Gulf Coast fishing industry. Others such as marlin, cobia and yellowfin tuna sit atop the food chain and are chased by the Gulf's charter fishing fleet.
Scientists say it could be a long time before the full impact on this complex ecosystem is known.
For more news and multimedia on the Gulf oil disaster, visit our Oil Spill section.