4 yrs after BP oil spill, Mote Marine still finding oil in Gulf - WFLA News Channel 8

Years after BP spill, Mote Marine still finding oil in Gulf

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The April 20, 2010 explosion and subsequent oil spill had far-reaching consequences. The April 20, 2010 explosion and subsequent oil spill had far-reaching consequences.
SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) - It's been nearly four years since the BP oil spill wreaked havoc in the Gulf of Mexico.

In April 2010, an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig the middle of the Gulf killed 11 people, and set in motion a chaotic environmental disaster.

More than 200 million gallons of oil poured out before the leak was plugged up, but the damage was already done.  Scientists from Mote Marine lab in Sarasota are working to determine the long term effects.

"In some locations, oil is still there," said Dr. Dana Wetzel, with Mote Marine Laboratory.

Over the past few years, she and her team have been collecting Gulf water samples near the spill site.  They have also been collecting fish samples.

"When you have oil from the magnitude that we had from the deepwater horizon spill in areas that aren't used to that kind of oil load or concentration, there is a good likelihood that you're gonna have some lasting effects," Dr. Wetzel said.

Officials say the toxic oil could alter the animal's DNA, or severely disrupt its reproductive abilities.

So far, the team has found small traces of oil compounds in the samples.

"We can't say yet if they're related to the Deepwater Horizon or just the oil industry in general in the area," said Susan Snyder, a graduate student.

The team is creating new, innovative tests to learn more than was previously possible.

"We should be looking at this for a very long time. We don't know how long you're going to see effects from an oil spill. Is it 5 years? Is it 6 years?" asked Dr. Wetzel.

Millions of people depend on the gulf for food or livelihoods, so this research is vital.  For example, if they determine a certain species has been impacted then federal regulators will know whether to close the fisheries and prevent people from catching them so the species can heal.

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