Marine Life at Risk in '3-D' Oil Spill

NEW YORK, June 11 (UPI) — Marine biologists, health experts and wildlife activists say the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a “three-dimensional spill” unlike any previous surface spills.

The say oil leaking from the well a mile below water is forming underwater plumes, patches, sheens, tarballs and microdrops, making it different from more common surface spills, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

“This is a three-dimensional spill,” Columbia University oceanographer Ajit Subramaniam said. “The physics, the chemistry and the biology action are very different when you have oil released from below.”

The well is located in a region of great marine diversity, experts say, raising the possibility of considerable biological damage.

Scientists say there are 1,728 different species of plants and animals living in the spill zone.

“We’ve thrown a monkey wrench into that ecosystem,” marine oil spill expert Chris Reddy at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts said. “There are uncertainties about the long- and short-term impacts.”

“You could end up changing the ecosystem completely,” Columbia University marine biologist Andrew Juhl said. “The things that tend to live in polluted areas are not the sorts of things we like.”

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