Florida Tech researchers: no oil in the Keys

06/14/10 Kate Bradshaw
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Bad news in the Gulf may be gushing every day. But researchers on a vessel that returned today from the Keys had some not-so-bad news.

The Florida Panhandle may be reeling from the oil that’s been washing up on its shores for more than a week, but researchers from the Florida Institute of Technology say the Keys are a different story – for now. Here is what Dr. Stephen Wood, a professor of ocean engineering at Florida Tech, says he saw there.

Wood said the research team, which has gone out on three separate three-night expeditions since June 2nd, looked at the water off the coast between Fort Myers and the Keys. He says he was expecting the worst.

Florida Tech meteorology major Sarah Collins said she and fellow students scoured this portion of the Gulf, including the waters around the Keys and the Dry Tortugas for evidence of oil, but found none.

Last week a team of scientists said much of the oil from Deepwater Horizon has been broken up so much that it’s invisible to the naked eye. But crewmembers said they couldn’t find any of that, either. Wood said the crew took water samples at depths of three to four hundred feet, and found nothing.

This comes less than a week after USF oceanographer Robert Weisburg said satellite imagery showed oil in the expanse between the Keys and Cuba known as the Straits of Florida. Wood said he can’t confirm or deny that, since the Weatherbird didn’t go out that far this time.

The news of no oil in the Keys or the Dry Tortugas may be welcome reprieve for many. But it was darkened by the fact that an unfathomable amount of the stuff is still out there. Wood said nobody knows how it’s going to behave.

Josh Huckstep, an ocean engineering major at Florida Tech, said he recommends getting down to the Keys while the getting’s good.

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