Though it doesn’t solve everything, the fact that surface oil is dissipating will reduce the risk of oil washing ashore or hurting more animals.
According to the New York Times, recent radar images show that the majority of the surface oil in the Gulf has dissipated, though there are certainly still patches of oil and tar balls on shorelines. (See an interactive timeline of the oil spill’s first 100 days.)
The oil has largely been dissipated due to the warm Gulf waters, high winds from recent storms, evaporation and bacteria. Officials aren’t sure exactly how much oil still lies below the surface. No oil has leaked from the well in two weeks.
Scientists are unsure of the impact of oil dissolved under the surface and how it will affect animals. Experts will be studying oil-affected shorelines for years. And the cleanup effort is far from done — oil-skimming boats are still working on the Gulf waters.