MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) - The oil leak is almost completely capped off, but that hasn'tcapped questions about what is left in the Gulf, and what effectthe dispersants used will have. One crew is setting out to try tofind those answers.
The crew of the Odyssey is calling Mobile home, at least untilSaturday. They will then head out on a two-week mission to findwhales. The goal is to get samples from the whales to test fortoxins.
John Wise with the University of Southern Maine said we didn'tlearn enough with the Exxon-Valdez spill, and he wants to changethat.
"I don't think there is any question about it, the dispersantsare known to be toxic and they are in the water. The question is,how toxic?" he said.
The tactic the team uses is pretty cool, and all ten crewmembers play a part. When a whale is spotted, a bow and arrow isused and on the arrow is a special tip.
"We line ourselves up with the whale so that it's next to us, weput one of the tips on here. When it hits the whale it doesn'tstick into it but it bounces off and floats in the water. It's likea mosquito bite to the whale," said crew member John Wise Jr..
The arrow is then scooped up with a net. Once the crew has thesample they take to the lab on the boat. The sample is eitherfrozen or put into an incubator to keep the cell alive before it'ssent back to the university. Wise said it's going to take more thanjust this excursion to determine the results.
"If we found nothing it wouldn't mean it was safe, it would justmean it's not there yet," said Wise.
Wise said they will stay on the Gulf Coast through October andplan on returning in the summer months for the next few years.
The group is in collaboration with Ocean Alliance and is a selffunding group. Most of their contributions come from the Universityof Southern Maine.
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