National

Oct 29, 2010 9:51 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Scientists monitoring gulf wildlife for spill changes

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A team of scientists are leaving on a research cruise to see if the BP oil spill hurt deep-sea coral and organisms that live around natural oil and gas seeps in the Gulf of Mexico.

It's counterintuitive, but scientists say an oil spill could hurt organisms such as tube worms and mussels that eat oil, gas and hydrogen sulfide gushing from natural oil and gas seeps.

That's because these organisms can die if oil settles on them from above. The biologists and geoscientists aboard the Gyre research vessel will tow a cage with a high-resolution digital still camera and take photographs of the depths.

The vessel is expected to leave Friday from Texas. The study is being led by geophysicist Bill Shedd of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

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