Gulf oil spill: What's beneath the surface could be deadliest of all
(CBS 8) - No marine life can escape the devastation of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and we are seeing proof of that in underwater videos. Scientists now say this contamination that we don't often see will have the deadliest impact.
Turtles covered in oil, an eel swimming through the spill, and dolphins ingesting oil as they come to the surface for air -- the pictures are devastating from a far. Imagine seeing it first hand.
Al Walker dives into the middle of the mess almost every day and has seen the oil as it moves from one stage to the next.
"I've seen it in a powder state, chalky state, now it's like big giant snot balls down there, and what do I see, I see black death," he said.
Walker is from the Gulf Wildlife Rescue Unit, a group of captains dedicated to keeping the Gulf healthy, which is why the pictures he's taking just break his heart.
"The Gulf of Mexico is taking a brutal beating right now, a continuous brutal beating and I'm not a scientist and you don't need a high IQ to understand that. It's not going to be the same, man. It can't," he said.
NOAA, the federal agency that monitors the oceans, agrees, confirming there is at least one massive underwater plume that spreads for miles. That's oil that dolphins and whales are sure to be inhaling, heading straight for their lungs.
"It can cause some inflammation, potentially pneumonia as well," Walker said.
"I think certainly the affects will last decades,"
Dr. Pam Yochem at the Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute is on stand-by to help in the Gulf when needed, but for now it's frustrating knowing the problem is going to get much worse before it starts to get better.
"The first thing you want to do before you treat effects of the toxins is stop the exposure, so the first thing you want to do is stop the exposure, then deal with the clean-up and we're not there yet," Dr. Yochem said.
So Al continues to dive to make sure scientists and the public have the facts.
"it's a dead zone. The top 30 feet, it's just, there's nothing," he said.