Death by fire in the gulf

By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times

Reporting from the Gulf of Mexico —

Here on the open ocean, 12 miles from ground zero of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the gulf is hovering between life and death.

The large strands of sargassum seaweed atop the ocean are normally noisy with birds and thick with crustaceans, small fish and sea turtles. But now this is a silent panorama, heavy with the smell of oil.

There are no birds. The seaweed is soaked in rust-colored crude and chemical dispersant. It is devoid of life except for the occasional juvenile sea turtle, speckled with oil and clinging to the only habitat it knows. Thick ribbons of oil spread out through the sea like the strips in egg flower soup, gorgeous and deadly.

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