New NASA image shows Gulf spill expanding as tar balls wash up on Key West
This morning via Twitter, NASA released a satellite photo taken yesterday showing that ocean currents are pushing the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico toward the southeast. And indeed, reports surfaced last night that 20 tar balls had washed up on the shores of Key West, Florida, stoking fears that the loop current may be carrying the oil around the Florida peninsula and up the East Coast.
That doesn't mean, however, that the Louisiana coast isn't still in peril. The photo shows that a large portion of the spill remains in those coastal waters, just off the mouth of the Mississippi River. Only now, it also has a long tail extending across the Gulf toward the southeast:
Just yesterday the Associated Press reported that scientists were "increasingly worried that huge plumes of crude already spilled could get caught in a current that would carry the mess all the way to the Florida Keys and beyond, damaging coral reefs and killing wildlife." Researchers have sent the Key West tar balls — reported to be 3 to 8 inches in diameter — to a lab for testing to determine their precise origin. Last week, similar tar balls were washing up on the Louisiana and Alabama shorelines.