Al Gore must be turning in his whale sheets.
Nature taking care of nature? Lions and tigers and bears, OH MY!
August 24, 2010, 1:00 PM
Scientists Find Oil-Eating Bacteria Plentiful in Deep Gulf Waters:
Oil-eating bacteria exist in significant quantities even in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and may be breaking down submerged oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil leak faster than previously believed, scientists are reporting today.
The bacteria were found in a plume of microscopic oil droplets more than 3,000 feet below the surface, in the vicinity of BP’s blown-out well, by a group of scientists led by Terry Hazen, a senior ecologist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Their presence may have been overlooked by other researchers because the variety found in the plume do not seem to be consuming much oxygen from the water column, unlike most oil-digesting bacteria, the scientists said.
In previous surveys of the plume, researchers measured dissolved oxygen levels in the water to determine bacterial activity.
“Conventional methods of estimating bio-degradation, which are based on oxygen levels, may overlook these bugs’ contribution,” the researchers said in a statement.
The discovery adds a new wrinkle to the debate over the fate of submerged oil from BP’s massive well blowout. In recent weeks, independent scientists sharply questioned a federal report estimating that the remaining oil from the spill was degrading quickly in the gulf. Federal scientists pushed back hard, asserting that their estimates were conservative and based on intensive field research and computer modeling.
The latest report, released early by the journal Science to coincide with a conference in Seattle, does not address the amount of oil that remains in the deep ocean or how much oil has been degraded by bacteria. But the findings do indicate that microbial communities in the deep waters of the gulf may be adapting quickly to the presence of oil and could play a major role in breaking down the oil plumes, which radiate for dozens of miles from the BP wellhead.