Navy researchers take a look at ocean floor in light of oil spill 4th anniversary

Oil Barge Accident

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — As the fourth anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill approaches, the Navy research sub called Alvin will be taking researchers down for a look at the ocean floor.

The research vessel Atlantis was scheduled to carry scientists and Alvin out Monday for the smaller vessel’s first research trip since renovation added space for a third scientist.

Researchers from the University of Georgia, Florida State University, the University of North Carolina and Coastal Carolina University plan 22 dives, The Sun Herald reported.

Marine science professor Samantha “Mandy” Joye of the University of Georgia, chief scientist for the voyage, said they’ll be checking sites they sampled in 2010 to see whether there’s been recovery.

“In the dives in the submarine, we’ll actually be able to see the diversity of animals on the bottom and compare this to what a natural soft bottom community would look like,” she said Saturday during a media day.

The sub also has high-definition cameras and can collect water, sediment and biological samples from the seafloor.

“Our work is aimed at understanding the long-term impacts of the 2010 blowout and sites within 20 to 100 nautical miles of the wellhead,” Joye said.

The well owned by BP PLC blew wild April 20, 2010, killing 11 crew members, and continued to spew oil until it was capped July 15, 2010.

About 300 pounds of tar balls from the spill recently washed onto Mississippi’s barrier islands.

The National Science Foundation is covering most of the cost. The Gulf Research Board is paying for three dives.

The Atlantis will be at sea until April 22.

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