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May 28, 2010 1:39 PM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

22-mile underwater oil plume nears rich waters

Researchers say a newly discovered plume of thick oil in the Gulf of Mexico is nearing an underwater canyon, where it could poison the foodchain for sealife in the waters off Florida.

The discovery of the plume, more than six miles wide and 22 miles long, was reported yesterday. It's been detected just beneath the surface, extending down to about 3,300 feet. Researchers say it's nearing a large underwater canyon whose currents fuel the foodchain in Gulf waters off Florida.

The discovery by researchers on the University of South Florida College of Marine Science's Weatherbird II vessel is the second significant undersea plume reported since the Deepwater Horizon exploded on April 20. The first plume stretched from the leaking oil well southwest toward the open sea. This undersea oil cloud is headed miles inland into shallower waters where many fish and other species reproduce.

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