<p>Oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill is making a "real mess" out of sensitive salt marshes, such as this state-owned reserve pictured July 3, 2010, near Grand Bay, Alabama, one scientist says.</p> <p>That's because the oil may slowly poison marshes that are critical nurseries for the majority of the Gulf's marine life, including shrimp and commercial fish, according to William Finch, a senior fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit the Ocean Foundation.</p> <p>What's more, marsh ecosystems have less resistance to oil, which—once it's carried inland with the tide—tends to stick around longer in the low-lying wetlands, said Finch, a longtime Alabama conservationist.</p> <p>"You're not going to see sudden death in this marsh—you're going to see things so screwed up that the marsh will die over the next year or two."</p> <p class="MsoNormal">—<i>Christine Dell'Amore </i></p>

Salt Marsh

Oil from the Gulf of Mexico spill is making a "real mess" out of sensitive salt marshes, such as this state-owned reserve pictured July 3, 2010, near Grand Bay, Alabama, one scientist says.

That's because the oil may slowly poison marshes that are critical nurseries for the majority of the Gulf's marine life, including shrimp and commercial fish, according to William Finch, a senior fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit the Ocean Foundation.

What's more, marsh ecosystems have less resistance to oil, which—once it's carried inland with the tide—tends to stick around longer in the low-lying wetlands, said Finch, a longtime Alabama conservationist.

"You're not going to see sudden death in this marsh—you're going to see things so screwed up that the marsh will die over the next year or two."

Christine Dell'Amore

Photograph by Chris Combs, National Geographic

Oil Spill to Slowly Poison Alabama Marsh?

Oil May Slowly Poison These Critical Ecosystems

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