TAMPA, Florida -- When it comes to marine science, USF professor Dr. John Paul is one of the nation's most noted experts, and his findings of the effects of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill, to coin a phrase, are making waves.
His recently published research suggests sea life could be biologically damaged because of the oil and chemicals BP used to disperse it.
"We have what we call polynucleomatic hydrocarbons. It's a big word, but these are ring-forming calcitrant compounds of the oil spill, which are extremely toxic and DNA damaging," said Dr. Paul.
In a nutshell, that means the oil could alter DNA and cause mutations in sea life because toxic compounds have been found on the Florida shelf, pushed toward Tampa Bay by underground currents, as observed by USF oceanographers.
"These squares are sediment samples with very high concentrations of mutagenic compounds and the circles indicate what's in the water," said Dr. Paul.
Dr. Paul admits there are no hard conclusions, and further research needs to be done, but said the findings could be cause for concern.
After learning of the report published in Environmental Science and Technology, BP released this statement:
"From the earliest days of the response, a team of scientists from multiple government agencies and BP (the Operational Science Advisory Team, or OSAT) conducted extensive sampling to identify, track and map oil in the water column over time as it attenuated. Those efforts detected no Macondo oil in Tampa Bay. The findings from the OSAT report show that there was no Macondo oil in the bay or the Florida shelf adjacent to it."