Reports Find Surface of Oil Spill Virtually Gone

On the 100th day of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, there is word of a stunning disappearance of surface crude from the BP blowout.

"That oil slick is really starting to dissipate pretty rapidly," said John Amos, president of the environmental group "Skytruth."

The oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico appears to be dissolving far more rapidly than anyone expected, a piece of good news that raises tricky new questions about how fast the government should scale back its response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The immense patches of surface oil that covered thousands of square miles of the gulf after the April 20 oil rig explosion are largely gone, though sightings of tar balls and emulsified oil continue here and there.

But scientists and fishermen are still concerned about the long-term effects of the oil, and the chemical dispersants used on it. “Less oil on the surface does not mean that there isn’t oil beneath the water,” said one official. And Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen says his boats will keep skimming the water for a while. “We’ve never put this much oil into the water,” he says. “We need to take this very seriously.”