Swimming in the Oil Spill — Without a Hazmat Suit

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AP Photo/Eric Gay

That was the unhappy task of Associated Press reporter Rich Matthews, who dove into a thick patch of oil and wrote about his experience.

His report?

Dropping beneath the surface the only thing I see is oil. To the left, right, up and down — it sits on top of the water in giant pools, and hangs suspended fifteen feet beneath the surface in softball sized blobs. There is nothing alive under the slick, although I see a dead jellyfish and handful of small bait fish.

While Matthews only spent 10 minutes in the oil, it was enough to become completely coated in the slick. He describes the process of de-oiling after his dip:

To be honest, I look a little like one of those poor pelicans we’ve all been seeing for days now. The oil is so thick and sticky, almost like a cake batter. It does not wipe off. You have to scrape it off, in layers until you finally get close to the skin. Then you pour on some Dawn dishwashing soap and scrub. I think to myself: No fish, no bird, no turtle would ever be able to clean this off of themselves. If any animal, any were to end up in this same puddle there is almost no way they could escape.

Unfortunately, the cleaners missed the bottoms of Matthews feet and he slipped and fell back into the oil-laden Gulf, necessitating another 30 minutes of scraping and scrubbing.

Read Matthews full report, via the Associated Press.