Two stories cropping up in the news today about the BP oil spill focus on a two-inch thick layer of oil on the bottom of the Gulf and a massive fish kill at Venice.

Researcher Samantha Joye, a professor in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, who has been studying the effects of the oil spill aboard the Research Vessel Oceanus says she has found layers of oil, at times two-inches thick resting on the sea floor. National Public Radio reports:
"I’ve collected literally hundreds of sediment cores from the Gulf of Mexico, including around this area. And I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said in an interview via satellite phone from the boat.

“It’s very fluffy and porous. And there are little tar balls in there you can see that look like microscopic cauliflower heads,” she says.

It’s very clearly a fresh layer. Right below it she finds much more typical seafloor mud. And in that layer, she finds recently dead shrimp, worms and other invertebrates.
This information counters the federal government’s claims that most of the oil in the Gulf is gone. Joye suggests that the dispersant Corexit sunk the oil, which she is now finding. The oil will be “fingerprinted” this week to determine if it came from the blowout of the Deepwater Horizon.

Today, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser describes to WWLTV a huge fish kill at the mouth of a shipping channel in Venice. Again, the kill must be researched to see if it is connected to the spill.

But what is most disturbing about these two stories is their connection to a story posted yesterday on the Ind website, that funding for independent research, mostly done by state universities, has dried up, leaving scientists unable to continue to monitor the health of the Gulf. Without adequate study, we will never really know what is going on in the marine environment. Everything from seafood to recreation is at stake and it is imperative the scientific research go forward. What we don’t know won’t hurt us is not the answer to questions concerning the BP spill.

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