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'Frothy Gunk' From Deepwater Horizon Spill Harming Coral

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the rick-someone-I-think-he-said dept.

Earth 149

sciencehabit writes "The massive oil spill that inundated the Gulf of Mexico in the spring and summer of 2010 severely damaged deep-sea corals more than 11 kilometers from the well site, a sea-floor survey conducted within weeks of the spill reveals. At one site, which hadn't been visited before but had been right in the path of a submerged 100-meter-thick oil plume from the spill, researchers found a variety of corals — most of them belonging to a type of colonial coral commonly known as sea fans — on a 10-meter-by-12-meter outcrop of rock. Many of the corals were partially or completely covered with a brown, fluffy substance that one team member variously calls 'frothy gunk,' 'goop,' and 'snot.'"

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Santorum (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39484665)

That's why Santorum supports more drilling.

Re:Santorum (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484987)

That's why Santorum supports more drilling.

When Santorum hears "Drill, Baby, Drill!", the seafloor isn't the first thing that crosses his mind.

Re:Santorum (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39485257)

When Santorum hears "Drill, Baby, Drill!", the seafloor isn't the first thing that crosses his mind.

And when Santorum hears "frothy gunk," himself [spreadingsantorum.com] is the first thing to come to mind.

Re:Santorum (3, Funny)

semi-extrinsic (1997002) | more than 2 years ago | (#39487119)

I clicked this article just to see how far up the Santorum jokes were. Guess it was too obvious, huh?

Use the technical term, please (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39484669)

Santorum.

Drill baby drill!!! (1, Funny)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484673)

What's the worst that could happen?

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39484849)

What's the worst that could happen?

Collapse of the fisheries?

Coastal waters destroyed for many years if not permanently?

Wildlife irreparably harmed?

The beauty of nature destroyed because people value business and cheap energy above all else.

I once heard an interview of an ex-oil comany executive. He was asked what he would do to lower our dependance on oil He replied that eliminating the internal combustion engine. Cars and other things dependant on the internal combustion engine use about 40% of the oil use by this country.

The internal combustion engine is an inefficient (only 20% of the engery from the gasoline actually makes it to your wheels - the rest goes away as heat) throwback to the 19th century and really needs to be eliminated not only for energy policy, but also for air quality and other environmental reasons.

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39484959)

Joke. Sarcasm. Obvious. Woosh. Seriously. Calm the hell DOWN, dude.

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39485045)

uhh its closer to 70% dude!

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (1)

boligmic (188232) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485099)

Nothing will happen - though they probably should have used less chemicals as crude oil is a natural substance. We should be drilling less in deep water and more in shallow, easier to manage areas.

No, we wont' be eliminating the internal combustion engine because a few wackjob environmentalists like you have a bee in your bonnet. I will continue to drive my car as much as I want, where I want, and when I want. We will drill and recover MORE oil and resist efforts to artificially drive up the cost of oil because you think it is bad.

Thanks again, i'll take PROGRESS driven by OIL.

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485205)

I'm talkin' progress, baby!

If you were going for a good impression of Dennis Hopper's character in Waterworld, great job!

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (1, Troll)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485161)

The beauty of nature destroyed because people value business and cheap energy above all else.

So what? Business and cheap energy are pretty damn valuable which is why we invest so heavily in them. Beauty of nature? Not so much, but it gets a lot of investment anyway. I see no issue with the priorities of modern society.

needs to be eliminated not only for energy policy, but also for air quality and other environmental reasons.

ll you need to do is come up with something better.

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (0)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39487529)

Business and cheap energy are pretty damn valuable which is why we invest so heavily in them. Beauty of nature? Not so much

I pity anyone who values filthy lucre over beauty. IMO it's a mental illness.

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39487657)

The belief that opinions not matching one's own is a mental illness, is itself a mental illness.

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (5, Insightful)

Petron (1771156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484957)

I'd rather drill on land. So we can monitor it easily and if there is any spill, it is easy to contain, seal, and clean up. But environmentalists have a fit if you say "ANWR"
,
So oil drilling is pushed off shore. But it is too close to the shore! Environmentalists don't like those oil rigs! Move them farther out!

So we push the limit on how far we can push the oil rigs out... and when they are in an area very hard monitor, very hard to contain, very hard to seal, and very hard to clean up... the environmentalists have a fit that it isn't cleaned up fast enough.

Let the oil companies drill on land. Open up the oil we have on land where it is safer, cleaner, and can be better monitored. That is much better than trusting some other government to monitor (we will never hear about any spills), or having it in an area that an accident could cause massive damage. Plus we can transport oil by pipeline (burning no fossil fuels). That would be much better than a fleet of oil tankers (we all know how environmentally friendly those things are...)

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (1, Insightful)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485197)

Yep. Fracking demonstrates that absolutely no problem can result from drilling on land. There is no water underground that can be contaminated, and even if there were, it's not as though anyone relies on that filthy ground water to survive! Drill, baby, drill! Government is bad! BP is good!

Or better yet... (5, Insightful)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485207)

Or better yet, convert the country over to renewable alternative fuels, such as solar, hydro, geothermal, wind, etc. Subsidize electric cars instead of oil companies so that the power is generated at scale in power plants instead of hideously inefficiently inside relatively hideously inefficient internal combustion engines.

You'd kill two birds with one stone. Most of these power generation technologies are much cleaner, so you don't have to worry about things like oil spills. Also, you'd permanently sever our parasitic and detrimental dependence on the Middle East and other oil-producing countries that do not have our best interest in mind. And it's better for us as well--imagine never having to go to a gas station to "fill up" again, and paying less than 25% for the energy equivalency of gasoline.

Re:Or better yet... (4, Insightful)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485411)

Well sadly enough the same people that bemoan use of fossil fuels the loudest are also often the biggest obstacle to alternatives. No dams, think of the fish! No solar arrays, think of the horned toads and gila monsters you will displace! No wind farms, chopped birds are bad! No nuclear, radiation is the devil's work! For every proposal they either have a list of reasons why it can't happen or a list of restrictions that make it damn near impossible. They always seem to want a perfect solution. News flash! There is none. If you want to get off fossil fuels, you need to learn to compromise. I don't think that word exists in America anymore. "We the people" is more like "Me the people" these days...

Re:Or better yet... (5, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485515)

We didn't listen to those people during the last 25 years of fossil fuel burning, so why do we need to listen to them now? There will always be fundamentalists at both ends of the spectrum, that doesn't mean the rest of us can't recognise a need to move away from fossil fuel burning and towards cleaner alternatives as a good thing and accept some compromises. It's just a shame big oil's lobbyists prevented us doing so much earlier.

Re:Or better yet... (2)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486007)

well that's the problem isn't it? The people in the middle that are willing to compromise are NOT the ones with the ear of the politicians they elected. It's the lobbies with the money yelling loudly in one ear, and the activists dropping PR bombs in the other ear.

Re:Or better yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39486151)

Except we have (in the USA at least)...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_emission_standards

Re:Or better yet... (3, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485597)

Well sadly enough the same people that bemoan use of fossil fuels the loudest are also often the biggest obstacle to alternatives. No dams, think of the fish! No solar arrays, think of the horned toads and gila monsters you will displace! No wind farms, chopped birds are bad! No nuclear, radiation is the devil's work! For every proposal they either have a list of reasons why it can't happen or a list of restrictions that make it damn near impossible. They always seem to want a perfect solution. News flash! There is none. If you want to get off fossil fuels, you need to learn to compromise. I don't think that word exists in America anymore. "We the people" is more like "Me the people" these days...

Wow, straw man much? The case to be made against those projects is not "think of the fish" or "radiation is the devils work", it's "recognize the externality". It just so happens that it's a little harder to ignore a million missing salmon or some nuclear fallout than it is to ignore the science behind climate change.

External costs, go read an economics textbook and stop making every argument about how you wish *other people* would be open to compromise. It comes off a tad hypocritical.

Re:Or better yet... (5, Insightful)

yodleboy (982200) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486431)

The problem is not with recognizing the externality, it's that once it's been recognized then frequently that's it. No more talking, no more solutions, just endless study and regulation. You can't damn this river unless you can PROVE that no salmon will ever die in a thousand years due to your dam. And you know what happens? Either the project gets scrapped because it's unprovable, or some genius comes up with a billion dollar solution that no one can afford and we all keep burning coal. What the environmental side is saying is that the cost of business as usual is more acceptable than potential damage to the environment. Then they say business as usual is unacceptable. You can't have it all your way and may have to choose the lesser of two evils.

hypocritical? I do what i can within my means. I have an energy efficient house and appliances. I drive energy efficient cars even if i can afford a sporty gas guzzler. I recycle, maybe not as much as I could, but i make the effort. I make compromises in my own life that benefit the environment. What I don't do is bitch about the way things are then stand in the way of them changing.

Re:Or better yet... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39486239)

I guess you never considered that alternative fuels don't make good tooth brushes, Laptop Chassis, or the cable insulation that is on the wires inside your computer all of which are made from petroleum.

While I do not disagree with alternative fuels, as my car runs on biodiesel from waist oil, don't think that we can get completely away from petroleum products at this time. A majority of plastics and polymers come form these oil sites.

If you want the electric cars charging at home, you better push for more nuclear plants else you have natural gas and coal burning for electric. You might think we could replace with solar and wind but we would have to put a wind turbine in every neighbor hood and paint the deserts with solar arrays.
Hydro kills just as much environments as oil production does; imagine a dam on the Mississippi, how much eco-environment would that kill.

Re:Or better yet... (1)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39487181)

I didn't say we'd be petroleum-free; we'll be petroleum-independent. The vast majority of our oil is used for energy production, plain and simple.

And we don't need to put wind turbines in every neighborhood. What we need is a combination of approaches, all tailored for the region they're serving. And yes, we very likely would need to rely on things like coal and natural gas for a while as other renewable technologies ramp up. Still, it would be much, much better to generate the power at one central location since we already have the distribution channels in place. Like I said, that way we could generate it at scale, which allows us to do other nifty things like concentrate the pollution to be more easily cleaned than just having millions of cars and trucks spewing it into the open air.

Re:Or better yet... (1)

Petron (1771156) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486379)

Alternative fuels will have their day. But that day isn't today just quite yet. The Chevy Volt has been taken off of production because: It costs too much (even with subsidizes) and doesn't offer enough (35 mil range?).

I'm all for cutting subsidizes to oil companies. They are profitable enough to support themselves. And when Alternative fuels become cheaper than fossil fuels, I'll be the first on the block to switch over. The market wants cheap fuel. Offer me more for less and I'm one happy camper.

BTW: if you check out the new story on /., looks like there has been a jump in Solar tech. Awesome!

Re:Or better yet... (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 2 years ago | (#39487493)

Sounds great point me to the technology that provides this miracle you speak of? There is no doubt we have to move to some other resource the question is what will it be? On top of this issue is how to do it while keeping our economy intact.

Electric cars of today are not the solution. What you are essentially doing is converting heat energy by burning fossil fuels (coal, natural gas etc) to another medium with poor storage potential (electricity).

Sorry but I have a real problem with subsidizing stupidity.

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485325)

Let the oil companies drill on land. Open up the oil we have on land where it is safer, cleaner, and can be better monitored

To what purpose? Oil companies are already drilling on land. The untapped sources we have are not going to affect the price of gas at the pump or significantly prolong our ability to rely on oil.

Plus we can transport oil by pipeline (burning no fossil fuels).

That depends entirely on what is powering the pumps. Which in the case of the Alaskan pipeline's 11 pump stations is natural gas or liquid fuel. What, you didn't think the oil just flowed "downhill" all the way from Alaska did you?

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (1)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39487703)

I'd rather drill on land. So we can monitor it easily and if there is any spill, it is easy to contain, seal, and clean up.

You don't get it. The problems with BP start way before [truth-out.org] the disaster in the Gulf. They have a history of egregious safety violations which have killed people before. They trade high-risk safety practices for profit. I understand you don't like environmentalists; anyone with extreme viewpoints can be frustrating to deal with, but do not lose sight of why the DH disaster was so damaging. Even if BP is "drilling on land" they cannot be trusted to do so safely and they've demonstrated it for years prior to the DH "spill". Let's not focus the witch-hunt on anyone but BP and the regulatory system that let them keep doing what they do. That's where the fixing needs to happen first.

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (1)

Reservoir Penguin (611789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485465)

Right, if it were for Obama we'd be up to our necks in Coral and with no jobs.

Re:Drill baby drill!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39487585)

Poetic justice...both are growing at much the same pace these days.

i got a name for it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39484695)

We already have a perfect name for the frothy brown substance..santorium

Unfortunate, but not surprising... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484699)

Given how much oil leaked I don't see this as a great shock. There's probably some legitimate technical interest in exactly how far the oil spreads and how it does damage, but to an outside observer it seems like a foregone conclusion that a massive oil spill will probably do bad things to the area.

Re:Unfortunate, but not surprising... (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484725)

and the dispersants that are dumped that cause the oil to sink prevents any natural survival from occuring. There were plenty of these chemicals sprayed, not because tehy are good for long term issues, but because they help PR when less oil is visible on the surface or beaches.

Re:Unfortunate, but not surprising... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485225)

and the dispersants that are dumped that cause the oil to sink prevents any natural survival from occuring.

Except that we have deep sea corals (the worst effected of the group that the researchers had looked at so far) 11 km from the blow out naturally surviving the unsurvivable for almost a couple of years.

We may have more than just a PR trick, but a legitimate way to reduce the harm from large oil spills.

Re:Unfortunate, but not surprising... (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486583)

I hope so. The dispersants used after the Valdez spill turned a formerly thriving sea floor into nothing but sand and tar. the tarballs stayed there, bound to the chemicals that were preventing a natural version of the cleanup. I hope the 11km in this case is under the plume, and not some less-impacted location even though it is relatively close to the leak.

Re:Unfortunate, but not surprising... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39487193)

That appears to be more do to the geography and climate of the area. It contained the oil in a constrained region and the cold temperatures which lowered the ability to break down oil compounds.

Re:Unfortunate, but not surprising... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484993)

How bad the "bad things" are is more than just a technical issue, but also matter to what decisions we make. This coral is not particularly far away and parts of it are still alive, surviving a couple of years near the worst oil spill in history. It helps confirm that large oil spills are bad, but that the worst case predictions at the time of the spill missed the mark for some reason. Perhaps it's conditions unique to the Gulf or the methods used to contain the spill and mitigate its consequences.

Re:Unfortunate, but not surprising... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486319)

Right, all legitimate technically interesting issues. But a range of 11Km, 10, 12, or something else means absolutely nothing to a non expert out of context. Did scientists predict 10 and got 11? Or did they predict 100 and got 11 or...? It's all science but reporting on science as though they've either discovered something particularly interesting (which they haven't) isn't going to do the discipline any favours. This is an article that broadly explains that research is being done on an area but nothing substantive.

Worst case predictions are worst case, not what is probably going to happen. Hence the term 'worst case'.

Re:Unfortunate, but not surprising... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486423)

Worst case was something like complete death of oxygen breathing organisms in the Gulf below a certain depth.

Frosty Post (1, Funny)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484707)

Frothy Gunky post... hey! it's relevant!

Santorum Re:Frosty Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39485069)

I thought that frothy gunk or sludge was called santorum.

Re:Frosty Post (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39485251)

Google + Santorum have ruined the word "froth" for me. I wish they would have chosen a different word for this article, the mental image is disturbing.

Re:Frosty Post (1)

wintercolby (1117427) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485551)

Amen, we also need a different term for the stuff that sits on top of the liquid in a cappuccino.

Re:Frosty Post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39487635)

Foam.

Santorum Stains in the Gulf (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39485361)

Sounds like the broken well is releasing santorum into the sea. Doesn't get much more toxic than that.

Frothy gunk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39484731)

Deep-sea santorum?

BP doesn't give a crap (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484733)

When the gulf states fisheries go titsup in the next years, will BP pay up?

Only if they're forced to do so.

Re:BP doesn't give a crap (3, Insightful)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484777)

Luckily for BP overfishing wiped out those areas years ago. When I was a kid I heard a lot about the gulf mackerel stocks being pretty much wiped out.

Re:BP doesn't give a crap (5, Insightful)

eyenot (102141) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484899)

No, instead, everybody with a fishing boat will continue to blame the NOAA for every single last thing that happens to the fishing industry, including the results of overfishing.

If NOAA enforces fishing less, they're purposefully trying to ruin the industry in some kind of unfathomable conspiracy with the government and the oil companies and blah blah blah.

If NOAA allows for fishing, they're not protecting the ocean's wildlife enough and the smaller boats don't stand a chance to haul anything in when the bigger purse-sein boats are stealing it all, blah blah blah.

In all the time I've spent debating with fishermen, usually at Jane Lubchenco's Facebook, since the Deepwater spill, I've never seen one fisherman write that perhaps it's a good idea to try to preserve the industry by fishing less.

I think for most fishermen it's either

a) a foregone conclusion that all the fish will be fished to extinction so why dare to hold them back from making their livelihood
b) a foregone conclusion that it's impossible to seriously deplete fish stock from the world's "fisheries" so holding fishing back is conspiracy

blah blah blah blah

The thing is they talk about it like they have some kind of thriving business going when I'm sure if I had been there in the various meeting places where they go to argue with, heckle, and defame NOAA authorities over the years, I would probably have heard fishermen blaming every one but themselves for their decreasing livelihood.

Re:BP doesn't give a crap (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485193)

it's not overfishing I'm worried about here.

It's the cascade.

Reefs are home to many types of fish that are caught commercially.

no reef, no fish.

Misleading title (2)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484737)

I thought this was about the Presidential election. Thankfully I take the time to read the the summary, well, most of it. Some.

GO AWAY TROLL (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484807)

be GONE thy insidious wrenched beast! GO! SCAT! BE GONE I SAY!

/s (1)

Bananatree3 (872975) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484819)

forgot the all-important "/s for sarcasm"

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39484909)

After reading 'GOOP', I thought it was Gwyneth Paltrow's latest cookbook

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39487561)

I thought this was about the Presidential election. Thankfully I take the time to read the the summary, well, most of it. Some.

It should have been obvious. The title is "frothy gunk" not "frothy mix"...so this is definitely not about Santorum.

Re:Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39487695)

brown, fluffy substance that one team member variously calls 'frothy gunk,' 'goop,' and 'snot

But this is not the santorum we are familiar with. This is the brown santorum, or santorum generated without the proper preparations or in a heat of the moment.

BP is spreading santorum (-1, Troll)

jduhls (1666325) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484745)

I repeat: BP is spreading santorum

Re:BP is spreading santorum (0)

Picardo85 (1408929) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484831)

damn you, you beat me to the Santorum reference. :D

Re:BP is spreading santorum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39485071)

Actually, timothy beat you to the Santorum reference: "rick-someone-I-think-he-said dept."

Re:BP is spreading santorum (1)

jduhls (1666325) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485447)

Dang, I see now. Well, you win some, you lose some...

Re:BP is spreading santorum (1)

jduhls (1666325) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485349)

iknowright!!! My fingers were twitching at the keyboard just to get it out! I got modded down as a troll, too! I got a great feeling about today!

Re:BP is spreading santorum (0)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485559)

off topic? yes.

troll? no.

Re:BP is spreading santorum (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486339)

Interesting that there's a lot of Santorum trolls all of a sudden. I guess that's what happens when you pick up a win in a primary.

Re:BP is spreading santorum (1)

jduhls (1666325) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486717)

...trolling also happens when you promote christian versions of sharia law in a free country and then arrogantly run for the highest office in the land. Trolls beget trolls. That's what's interesting. FTFY

Re:BP is spreading santorum (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39487351)

...trolling also happens when you promote christian versions of sharia law in a free country

Perhaps so. I don't see an actual instance of Christian sharia, real or proposed, with which to make this test, so perhaps we'll never know. And what does this have to do with Santorum?

BP says... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39484757)

We're sorry. We said we were sorry. Go away. Leave us alone.

What else do you you want? We've got a money fight in half an hour.

Re:BP says... (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484809)

We're sorry. We said we were sorry. Go away. Leave us alone.

I think the choice words were, "I want my life back."

It's hell when society expects corporations and rich people to take responsibility for something. That's for ordinary suckers.

And you're part of the problem (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485861)

You say this, and yet you're one of the people who's completely excusing Transocean of their part in all this...

Re:BP says... (1, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486733)

Just MAYBE the GOVERNMENT shouldn't have created the false sense of security - the moral hazard, by providing the companies in question with 'insurance' against such accidents, especially in the form of liability caps (what was it, 75 Million per accident?)

And then MAYBE the GOVERNMENT shouldn't have used its power to prevent shallow water drilling with regulations.

Re:BP says... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39488057)

God you're a fucking tool.

The oil or the Chemicals causing harm? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484765)

From what I've read it was the dispersant chemicals (frothy gunk) that caused most of the damage. The oil by itself would have eventually been eaten by bacteria, and recycled back into the ecosystem (as happens with all dead plant matter).

Re:The oil or the Chemicals causing harm? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39484827)

From what I've read it was the dispersant chemicals (frothy gunk) that caused most of the damage. The oil by itself would have eventually been eaten by bacteria, and recycled back into the ecosystem (as happens with all dead plant matter).

A few gallons of liquefied dinosaur never hurt anyone!

Re:The oil or the Chemicals causing harm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39485115)

A few gallons of liquefied dinosaur never hurt anyone!

Obligatory gruen transfer reference [youtube.com] (hey it's gotta start somewhere)

Re:The oil or the Chemicals causing harm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39484829)

BP? Is that you?

Re:The oil or the Chemicals causing harm? (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485173)

From what I've read it was the dispersant chemicals (frothy gunk) that caused most of the damage.

From this article: "Samples of the material contained mucus secreted by the corals—a sign the colonies had recently been under stress—as well as fragments of dead coral polyps, saturated and unsaturated fatty acids commonly found in biological tissues such as cell membranes, and a mélange of petroleum residues."

No mention of dispersants.

Re:The oil or the Chemicals causing harm? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485211)

Well the dispersant dispersed the oil and caused it to sink, which on its own could heavily damage ocean ecosystems like these corals. The ecological impact of the dispersant itself is largely unknown I think.

What the dispersant did do is keep large amounts of oil from hitting the gulf coast, which aside from being better for BP PR was also a good thing for sensitive coastline environments.

Which was ultimately the better choice I don't know. It's not like either choice is good. Maybe the worst part about the use of dispersants was it created an "out of sight, out of mind" reaction. "Since I can't visibly see the result of the spill, it must not be that bad."

But what does this mean for Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39484781)

and what does it have to do with Santorum?

Ubuntu 13.0 Frothy Gunk (2)

Morris Thorpe (762715) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485059)

Anyone else saw Frothy Gunk and thought it was a story about a new Ubuntu release?

Re:Ubuntu 13.0 Frothy Gunk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39485133)

No no, it's got to be either Frothy Funk or Gothy Gunk.

Cry me a river (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39485063)

Boo hoo hoo. I could give a rat's ass.

Did anyone think the oil disappeared? (5, Interesting)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485145)

This was literally a cover up. Dump toxic chemicals on top of the oil slick, so it would sink, thus avoiding the PR disaster that came with a beach landing of oil slicks. So they traded the beach for the sea floor, and most Americans promptly went back to bed, or down to the beach to let their kids swim.

Re:Did anyone think the oil disappeared? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39487767)

The fact is that the most important and fragile part of the ocean biosphere is the surface and the tidal marshes. It s where most of the life is, and the most important, complex, slow to recover and fragile life at that. Regardless of what you think the motivation was, dispersing oil through the water column vs letting it all rise to the surface was the right thing to do to minimize the damage.

I hate to mention it but.. (1)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485255)

It is frothy, contains oil and water, and was caused by drilling a hole in the wrong place. Shouldn't we call it "santorum"?

The New Santorum? (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485279)

Please don't send the secret service after me.

Santorum? (1)

Rougement (975188) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485415)

BP somehow got the reef covered in santorum? What the hell were they thinking?

Misleading title (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39485681)

The "frothy gunk" is not what's harming the coral, it's the result. The gunk consists partly of oil, but also protective mucus from the coral itself, as well as bits of dead coral polyps.

So, um.... (2)

sharkey (16670) | more than 2 years ago | (#39485873)

I guess Cthulu has been beating off?


Where IS Captain Hindsight when we need him?

Google:santorum urban dictionary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39486101)

Google: santorum urban dictionary
Yeah, that's interesting.

Which is it? (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486307)

It's unclear from the article, but is this actually the fault of OIL (which, as I understand, naturally seeps quite frequently from the Gulf floor) or is it more an issue with the dispersants applied to push the oil down into the water column? To me, that seems more a likely culprit than the oil alone.

"In almost half of the 43 corals studied at the site, the majority of animals had died or were showing signs of stress, the researchers say. And in more than one-quarter of the corals, more than 90% of the animals showed such damage. Also, more than half of the brittle stars, a relative of starfish, found clinging to the sea fans were partially or completely bleached white, another certain sign of stress, says Fisher."

Lots of stats being layered suspiciously here.

So in "almost half" a "majority" had died or showed "some" stress.
And in "more than 1/4", "more than 90%" showed "such" damage.

Meaning in the first case that an actual majority of corals (and significant portions of the remainder) showed no stress at all? And in the second case that (roughly) 75% showed NO damage?

To me, that's downright astonishing.

It's far more worthy of reporting than the summary/title that some downstream corals have been harmed by the largest spill in human history.

Re:Which is it? (3, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39487927)

You don't know the first thing about coral biology, do you?

A coral is a colony of many small polyps, sometimes living in symbiosis, or parasitosis with algae (Zooanthelae), which provide an additional energy source for the colony.

If the algae are expelled, the coral loses its color, and is said to be "bleached".

So, in almost half of the corals, a majority of the polyps died, or showed signs of severe stress. In a quarter of the corals, 90% of the polyps died. or showed signs of severe stress.

(Imagine you're a researcher examining the course of a smallpox epidemic several hundred years ago. The death records are grouped by parishes. Since most people did not often travel from village to village, but stuck to their local communities, it makes sense to talk about parishes in which "a majority" of the inhabitants died, and parishes in which "most" of the people died, and so on. In this case, the coral is the village; the polyp is the individual vilager.)

Re:Which is it? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#39488071)

Oops. It's Zooxanthellae. Just in case you wanted to look them up.

Frothy Gunk (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486361)

...so Santorum is for it?

Historical perspective (1)

Beer_Smurf (700116) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486415)

What I never hear about is what the experience is longer term with these spills is. In world war 2, many oil tankers and other ships were sunk with huge amounts of all types of fuel from heavy bunker oil to aviation gasoline. What is the effect at these sites 70 years later? Should be easy to go see.

Re:Historical perspective (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#39487705)

You could google it. There have been plenty of studies on the topic.

Ladies and Gentlemen (5, Interesting)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486471)

Why is it that this entire thread has been riddled with "Santorum" comments, yet only a couple people seem to have wanted to start any sort of informed discussion about this issue?

Sure, Americans DID go back to bed after the BP disaster (to quote another /.'er) but this disaster is still the reason I think twice before eating shrimp in the U.S. It's an environmental disaster of epic proportions, and we've just let it ride.... even on Slashdot? I remember reading article after article, the outrage and hope that big oil would finally get it's comeuppance... and now nothing?

Also, if any of you people are paid to troll this thread with nonsense (and I know someone in marketing who says this is more likely than you might think), then shame on you.

Re:Ladies and Gentlemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39487707)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaign_for_%22santorum%22_neologism

Re:Ladies and Gentlemen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39488131)

I still won't eat gulf shrimp, or shrimp if I can't identify the source, if that makes you feel any better.

Translation (1)

codepunk (167897) | more than 2 years ago | (#39486783)

Please grant us more federal funds so that we may continue to study it for the next 30 years.

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