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Images: Still Toxic After All These Years

In 1969, the barge Florida ran aground off Cape Cod, spilling 189,000 gallons of fuel. (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution archives)

Prevailing winds blew oil from the barge Florida into Wild Harbor in Falmouth, Mass.,where decades later, scientists found residual oil from the spill buried in the salt marsh. They also sampled Great Sippewissett Marsh, which was not affected by the Florida spill. (Map by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Decades later, Wild Harbor appears pristine, but oil from the 1969 spill still lies buried in marsh sediments. (Photo by Helen White, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Graduate student Jennifer Culbertson used plaster of Paris casts of fiddler crab burrows to show that the crabs turned back when they came in contact with buried residual oil. Culbertson is a graduate student from the Boston University Marine Program and guest student working with geochemist Chris Reddy at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Scientists made plaster of Paris casts of fiddler crab burrows in Great Sippewissett Marsh in Falmouth, Mass., which did not receive oil from a 1969 barge spill, and in nearby Wild Harbor, where oil from a 1969 barge spill remains buried beneath a pristine-looking surface. The Sippewissett burrows were straight, with average depths of 14.8 centimeters. Burrows in Wild Harbor areas with residual oil descended an average of only 6.8 centimeters and were stunted. The crabs appear to turn back when they encounter oil. (Illustration by E. Paul Oberlander, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Plaster of Paris casts demonstrate how fiddler crabs in healthy marshes dig deep and straight burrows (left side), while crabs in areas where oil is still buried in Wild Harbor dig shallow and erratic burrows. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Jennifer Culbertson (center), along with her Boston University Marine Program advisor Ivan Valiela (right) and fellow student Ylva Olsen, transplant marsh grasses in Wild Harbor. Because crab burrows help till and aerate the marsh, the shallow burrowing in Wild Harbor could affect grass growth. (Photo courtesy of Boston University Photo Services)

Helen White, a graduate student in the MIT/WHOI Joint Program, takes a core of sediment in Wild Harbor to analyze how bacteria decomposed oil from the 1969 spill. (Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)