Dead Gulf Coral Points to BP Spill
'We'll never be able to see everything that happened down there'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2010 10:34 AM CDT
This undated photo shows a sea fan, Callogorgia gracilis, with brittle star Asteroschema sp. clinging to coral branches, several miles from the blown-out BP well.   (AP Photo/Lophelia II 2010, NOAA, OER and BOEMRE)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Damaged coral reefs several miles from BP's blown-out Macondo well suggests the spill inflicted far more damage on the Gulf of Mexico's ecosystem than previously thought, reports the AP. "What we have at this point is the smoking gun," says a government biologist who led a recent expedition. The coral has "been dying for months. What we are looking at is a combination of dead gooey tissues and sediment. Gunk is a good word for what it is."

Though more testing is needed to confirm the oil caused the damage, the report from federal scientists is at odds with the government's August statements that the damage was relatively limited. Further expeditions are planned, but given the depth and potential scope of the affected area, one scientist says, "we'll never be able to see everything that happened down there."