At the same time, scientists are worried. They cite significant declines in key health indicators such as the sea floor, dolphins and oysters. In interviews, dozens of Gulf experts emphasized their concerns, pointing to the mysterious deaths of hundreds of young dolphins and turtles, strangely stained crabs and dead patches on the sea floor.
Cain Burdeau, Associated Press/Google
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In this April 1, 2011 photo, Tulane University population ecologist Jessica Henkel sets up a net to catch migrating birds for blood, fecal and feather samples on Fourchon Beach in Port Fourchon, La., as part of a research project that is looking for long-term, not immediately lethal effects from the BP PLC oil spill on birds that stop along the Gulf Coast during their migration. “It's much easier to see a dead pelican on the beach” than it is to see more chronic population-wide effects, Henkel said. (AP Photo - Patrick Semansky)
Scientists judge the overall health of the Gulf of Mexico as nearly back to normal one year after the BP oil spill, but with glaring blemishes that restrain their optimism about nature's resiliency, an Associated Press survey of researchers shows.
More than three dozen scientists grade the Gulf's big picture health a 68 on average, using a 1-to-100 scale. What's remarkable is that that's just a few points below the 71 the same researchers gave last summer when asked what grade they would give the ecosystem before the spill. And it's an improvement from the 65 given back in October.