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November 4, 2010 at 8:28 p.m. – Associated Press

PENSACOLA — Federal scientists say they have found damage to deep sea corals and other marine life several miles from where BP’s blown-out well spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration along with Penn State University and others examined the coral.

Scientists said Thursday that surveys using remotely operated vehicles down to 4,600 feet, and roughly seven miles from the BP well, found dead and dying corals. Some appeared to be coated with a “brown substance.”

Further tests are needed to determine if the substance is oil, and if it came from BP’s well that blew out in April off Louisiana.

NOAA chief Jane Lubchenco says the government is committed to ongoing research in the region to determine the extent of damage.