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Jun 9, 2010 2:33 PM by Melissa Canone

A Dive Into The Oil

IN THE MURKY DEPTHS OF THE GULF OF MEXICO (AP) - I jump off the
boat into the thickest, reddest patch of oil I've ever seen. I open
my eyes and realize my mask is already smeared. I can't see
anything and we're just five seconds into the dive.
Dropping beneath the surface some 40 miles out into the Gulf Of
Mexico, the only thing I see is oil. To the left, right, up and
down - it sits on top of the water in giant pools and hangs
suspended 15 feet beneath the surface in softball-size blobs. There
is nothing alive under the slick, although I see a dead jellyfish
and handful of small bait fish.
I'm alone because the other divers with me wouldn't get in the
water without Hazmat suits on, and with my mask oiled over and the
water already dark, I don't dive deep.
It's quiet, and to be honest scary, with extremely low
visibility. I spend just 10 minutes swimming around taking
pictures, taking video. I want people to see the spill in a new
way, a way they haven't yet.
I also want to get out of the water. Badly.
I make my way to the back of the boat unaware of just how
covered I am. To be honest, I probably look a little like one of
those poor pelicans we've all been seeing for days now.
The oil is thick and sticky, almost like a cake batter. It does
not wipe off. You have to scrape it off, in layers, until you
finally get close to the skin. Then you pour on some Dawn
dishwashing soap and scrub.
I think to myself: No fish, no bird, no turtle would ever be
able to clean this off itself. If any animal were to end up in this
same puddle, there is almost no way it could escape.
The cleaning process goes on for half an hour before the captain
will even think about letting me back in the boat. I'm clean, so I
stand up.
But the bottoms of my feet still had oil, and I fall back in the
water. The process starts again.
Another 30 minutes of cleaning, and finally I'm ready to step
into the boat.

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