Toxic Oil Found Deep on Gulf Seafloor?
Oil may be harming base of food web, early results suggest.
(Related: "Much Gulf Oil Remains, Deeply Hidden and Under Beaches.")
What's more, tiny deep-sea creatures are showing a "strong toxic response" to hydrocarbons, an ingredient of oil, according to preliminary results released Tuesday by the University of South Florida (USF).
During a ten-day research cruise in August, the USF team sampled water and sediments in DeSoto Canyon—a nutrient-rich gully east of the Deepwater Horizon wellhead that's also the birthplace of many commercial fish species.
By shining ultraviolet light on the samples, the team indirectly detected hydrocarbons in the sample that seem to have the same fluorescent fingerprints as oil from the wellhead, which was capped July