Coast Guard Rear Admiral Paul Zukunft will soon take over as the government's point man on the BP oil spill disaster.

National Incident Commander Thad Allen is stepping down at the end of the month.

Monday, Zukunft flew to Morgan City to inspect the NOAA research vessel, Ocean Veritas.

It's one of about a dozen ships now fanning out from the well site in the Gulf of Mexico, looking for oil hidden on the sea bottom and in the water column.

'So we can provide the public consistency in reporting, transparency in data to assure that the waters, verify the safety of the waters and most important the safety of the seafood,' said Zukunft.

Last week, some University of Georgia researchers found oil clinging to the sea floor, in some areas as thick as two inches.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration marine biologist Ian Hartwell, one of the scientists about the Veritas also expects to find oil in sediment tests near the BP wellsite.

'In the vicinity, immediate vicinity of the well, I'd be very surprised if we didn't see some oil, in what concentration, I don't know,' said Hartwell. 'That's why we're going to go out and find out.'

Dr. Hartwell says tests that once showed hydrocarbons from the well in parts per million in the water, now show parts per billion.

'It's clearly dispersing, it's going away, it's becoming less and less concentrated which means it's going to have less and less effect,' said Hartwell.

The well may be killed, but according to the Coast Guard, the response effort is still very alive. Responders are paying particular attention to well oiled inland areas like Pass A Loutre, Bay Jimmy and Baptiste Colette Bayou, dubbed the 'Nasty Nine.'

'We can't send heavy equipment in to recover that oil because it will then compress that wetland and actually case further erosion of the wetlands,' said Zukunft.

In the meantime, the admiral says tests aboard the Veritas should help reaffirm Louisiana seafood is safe to eat.

'It's my expectation, beyond my hope that it will,' said Zukunft.

The Veritas is expected to remain at sea through the middle of October.

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