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Flight 370 Satellite Image May Show Possible Oil Slick: Expert

An oceanographer who specializes in analyzing satellite images said he has spotted a possible oil slick in photos released Thursday that may show debris from missing Flight 370.

The search for the Malaysia Airlines 777 was narrowed down to a remote area of the Indian Ocean after Australian authorities unveiled images appearing to show two large pieces of debris.

"I spend a lot of my life looking at these sorts of things, and the first thing I thought when I saw the photo was, 'there's a slick in that one,'" said Dr. Simon Boxall, a lecturer at the government-funded National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, U.K. "If you look at the one they have labeled 'Object 2' there is an interesting spot under the object itself."

Image: Satellite image that may be associated with missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370
The diagonal streak seen below and slightly above the arrow in this image might be an oil slick, according to Boxall. Australian Maritime Safety Authority

Boxall told NBC News that he has analyzed thousands of satellite images showing oil slicks in water during his career.

He added that the timing of the photo, just after noon local time, was important because the sun would have been overhead, making any oil in the water glint.

Boxall said the detail gave "credence" to the idea that the debris is connected to Flight 370, but nevertheless urged caution.

"There are lots of things that could give a false positive," he said. "It could be a container that is leaking oil, or even just a shoal of fish glinting in the light and giving that appearance."

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