The footprint of damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill has gotten a little larger.
A coral community that sits 22 kilometers from the Macondo wellhead and roughly 1,900 meters deep shows signs of damage from the spill. The damaged coral sits twice as far and hundreds of meters deeper than previously identified coral patches with signs of damage from the spill, researchers report July 28 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The team notes that most of the known deep-water coral communities in the Gulf of Mexico do not show major damage from the spill. However, two of the newly discovered coral patches do show signs of impact from deep-sea fishing. The findings suggest that human activity is having a cumulative effect on the Gulf’s deep-sea corals.