JOHN COLLINS RUDOLF for the New York Times
A survey of the sea floor near BP’s blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico has turned up dead and dying coral reefs that were probably damaged by the oil spill, scientists said on Friday.
The coral sites lie seven miles southwest of the well, at a depth of about 4,500 feet, in an area where large plumes of dispersed oil were discovered drifting through the deep ocean last spring in the early weeks after the spill.
The large swaths of darkened coral and other damaged marine organisms were almost certainly dying from exposure to toxins, scientists said.
The corals were discovered on Tuesday by scientists aboard a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research vessel, using a submersible robot equipped with still and video cameras and sampling tools.