If you have been following the news recently, schizophrenia seems to have set in regarding the longterm impacts of the Gulf oil spill. One day, the place is coming up smelling like roses, the next it's nearh high the apocalypse, with 80% of the oil working its way into the ecosystem.

One reason for this is a shortfall of research cash this year, with scientific teams having trouble justifying the expenses associated witn independent expidtions into the Gulf to systematically measure what is REALLY going on down there.

Fortunately Greenpeace has lent one of its ships -- the Arctic Sunrise -- to the research cause. Greenpeace simply wants the scientists to get out there and do the science, and they will be traveling port to port picking up research teams who will be studying everythng from microorganisms in the water to the effects of oil and dispersants on large marine mammals. 

In the first week two scientists from Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanographic Center will be studying sponges in the Florida keys, a key species to the survival of coral reefs in the region. And last week 2 groups of scientists -- one studying plankton from Tulane University and another studying marine mammals from Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society -- began their research.

Next month more scientists will be boarding the ship, so in the months to come we will be able to replace media hyperbole with sound science. Until then, the only truly accurate statement that can really be made about the Gulf is that we simply do not yet know what the impacts of BP's oil spill will be over the long term.

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