NOAA scientists begin survey of loop current

Published 2:45 pm Thursday, July 1, 2010

Government scientists are on their way to study the Gulf of Mexico’s loop current to see if it will bring oil around the tip of Florida and up the U.S. Atlantic coast.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ship Nancy Foster began a two-week survey Wednesday in the eastern Gulf and the Florida Straits.

Mission chief scientist Ryan Smith says the researchers are trying to determine what’s happening in the currents that may trap some of the oil and carry it far away from the blown-out BP well.

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The team will collect samples of water and marine life at different depths. They’re also looking for oil, dispersants and tar balls in the water column.

So far, between 70.8 million gallons and 137.6 million of oil have spewed into the Gulf, according to government and BP estimates.