Times journalist dives into Gulf of Mexico slick

Times journalist Frank Pope defied restrictions around the ever growing slick in Gulf of Mexico to dive into the oil-filled water.

Pope wrote in the Times today about the extent of the catastrophe and the increasing toll it’s taking on the surrounding region – both on-shore and in the water.

He joined marine toxicologist Susan Shaw, of the Marine Environmental Research Institute, to ‘peer into the hidden side of the Deepwater Horizon disaster”.

Pope wrote:

‘Wreathed in neoprene and with Vaseline coating the exposed skin around our faces, we slip into the clear water in the lee of the boat.

‘Beneath the mats of radioactive-looking, excrement-coloured sludge are smaller gobs of congealed oil.

‘Taking a cautious, shallow breath through my snorkel I head downwards. Twelve metres under, the specks of sludge are smaller, but they are still everywhere.

‘Among the specks are those of a different hue. These are wisps of drifting plankton, the eggs and larvae of fish and the microscopic plants and animals that form the base of almost all marine food webs.

‘Any plankton-eating fish would now have trouble distinguishing food from poison, let alone the larger filter-feeders.”

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