Dissolved oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill off Louisiana wafted underwater all the way down to Florida’s Sanibel Island, sickening fish along the way, according to a new study from University of South Florida scientists.
An upwelling of cold water from deep in the Gulf of Mexico swept the oil up onto the continental shelf about 80 miles offshore, spreading it far from where it was spewing out of a damaged rig, the study found.
USF scientists used computer modeling to plot the path of the oil, then tied it in with diseased fish by checking their livers for signs of hydrocarbons with a similar chemical signature to Deepwater Horizon oil. The fish livers were trying to screen out the impurities but could not cope with the quantities, leading to immune system problems.
The study, published this week in a scientific journal called Deep-Sea Research II, is not good news for BP, which is battling the U.S. government and other claimants in federal court over how many billions of dollars in damages it owes for pollution caused by all the oil it spilled.
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