Sep 26, 2013 5:10 PM by Sara Donchey
CORPUS CHRISTI -- A new study out of Texas A&M Univeristy Corpus Christi sheds new light on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010.
The research, which was conducted in conjunction with the University of Nevada, Reno, suggests that it could take decades for the Gulf of Mexico to fully recover from the accident.
Dr. Paul Montagna of the Harte Research Institute explained this latest research is different because it focuses on the ocean floor, rather than the water's surface.
"A lot of the oil got trapped underneath the deep sea," Montagna said. "That was basically an unseen effect. And until now, it's largely gone unrecognized."
Scientists focused on underwater ecosystems located in soft, muddy sediment at the ocean floor.
Researchers collected samples of sea life and used their findings to determine the breadth of the spill's impact in the Gulf.
"Those organisms are literally the canaries in the coal mine. They tell us about the health of the environment."
The study says damage from the spill was observed for up to 57 square miles.
They say their findings suggest that it could take decades for a full recovery.
"The trouble is the deep sea is so remote, and so difficult to work in, that it's going to be really, really difficult to restore...So some of these damages may occur for a very long time."
BP released a statement this afternoon in repsonse to the study that reads in part, "researchers acknowledge that little is known about recovery rates of these communities following an event such as this."