BP Well Stays Capped for Another Day, Slick Shrinks in Size

Still, though, skimmers remain the best line of defense for the fragile coastline, with oil still headed ashore.

Allen: Still a Lot of Work to Be Done

"We still have a lot of work ahead of us," Adm. Allen acknowledged today. "And we still have a heck of a lot of oil out in the Gulf of Mexico."

While oil has hit beaches and marshes in four states, there is now no sign of oil along the Florida panhandle. Scientists also say that the very small amount of oil in Lake Pontchartrain, the tidal bay north of New Orleans, has dispersed and disappeared.

Loop Current No Longer a Threat

Then, there's the loop current that threatened to catch and carry the oil through the Florida Keys, up the coast to Miami and beyond. Thankfully, it hasn't happened. The current split into two, with the northern portion swirling endlessly in the Gulf, and the southern portion flowing over 100 miles from the spill zone.

It's "a current that's almost independent of the rest of the water around it, and it's tough to get that oil into it," said Joe Bastardi, a meteorologist for AccuWeather.

Still, none of the good news means that the Gulf has dodged the proverbial bullet of an environmental disaster. Great unknowns lurk below the surface.

"We really won't know [the environmental impact] for several years," said Dr. John Lopez, a coastal scientist with the Lake Pontchartrain Foundation. "It would probably take a minimum of three years for various species to grow to a size where maybe they would be harvested and begin to recognize trends that they've been impacted."

Even though the flow has stopped, it remains a disaster on a scale never seen before.

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