ROV to Study Impact of Gulf Oil Spill on Deep Water Corals

A team of researchers from Penn State have discovered a coral community, seven miles southwest of the site of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, and at a depth of 1,400 m, with the help of a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). These coral colonies include several dead and injured corals and it was believed that the damage is due to oil spill.

Charles Fisher, Chief Scientist of the Team, has stated that certain branches of the coral community seemed normal and the rest were completely enclosed in a brown colored substance, evidently swampy mucous tissue. He mentioned that they have ascertained that the major portions of the coral community include many recently dead colonies and others that were in a dying phase.

Coral colonies serve as a home to several marine animals, which depend on corals for their existence. In addition, scientists have noticed that several starfish that exist along with corals were fatally ill. Researchers are conducting several investigations to ascertain the reason behind this disaster.

Fisher has stated that the nearness of the site to the catastrophe, their distinct findings and the apparent proof the recent impact, propose the linking of the disaster to the contact of the coral colony to either dispersant, oxygen depletion, oil or the combined defect of all these factors or any other water-borne impacts of the oil spill.

Source: http://www.psu.edu

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