Sea Snot is a byproduct produced when certain phytoplanktons get agitated. Like when you dump 4 million barrels of oil on them. The snot sinks fast and is sticky, It traps all the other foody bits in the water and so creates a dead zone where nothing can survive.
"Sea Snot" Explosion Caused by Gulf Oil Spill?
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill sparked an explosion of sticky clumps of organic matter that scientists call sea snot, according to ongoing research.
The boom likely precipitated a sea-snot "blizzard" in Gulf (map) waters, researchers say. And as the clumps sank, they may have temporarily wiped out the base of the food chain in the spill region by scouring all small life from the water column.
In the weeks after the April 20 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, scientists surveying the surface near the drill site spotted relatively huge particles—several centimeters across—of sea snot.
These particularly slimy flakes of "marine snow" are made up of tiny dead and living organic matter, according to Uta Passow, a biological oceanographer at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
Tiny plants in the ocean called phytoplankton produce a mucus-like substance when stressed, and it's possible that exposure to the Deepwater Horizon oil caused them to pump out more of the sticky stuff than usual.