Gulf oil spill: Dead deep-sea corals found near BP well

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Scientists on a research cruise have found dead and dying deep-sea corals near the site of the massive BP oil leak.

Federal officials reported the discovery Thursday, saying that until laboratory tests were conducted on coral and sediment samples, they could not be sure what is killing the corals. But they were covered with ‘what appeared to be a brown substance.’

“These observations capture our concern for impacts to marine life in places in the gulf that are not easily seen,” Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said in a statement.

Using robotic submarines, government and academic researchers on the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown were working at a site about 4,600 feet deep, seven miles southwest of the capped Macondo wellhead, when they observed corals with sloughing tissue and discoloration.


Ninety percent of 40 large corals were heavily affected. Another colony of stony coral about 1,200 feet away was in similar shape.

But other coral sites surveyed by the expedition showed no change from previous years, according to NOAA.

-- Bettina Boxall