Bacteria managed to take in the methane before it could rise from the sea bottom and be released into the atmosphere, but the process contributed to a loss of about 1 million tons of dissolved oxygen in areas southwest of the well.
"Given observations about how slowly methane is normally consumed, we didn't think the (bacteria) population was up to the challenge at all ... we thought it would be a lot slower," Valentine said.
The fact the bacteria took in that large amount of methane could indicate that bacteria might absorb other large-scale deep ocean methane releases, the scientists said.
Bacteria gobbled methane from BP spill: scientists
Our natural systems are amazingly resilient... if we'd just stop torturing them