Published: Jun 04, 2010 6:31 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 04, 2010 3:31 PM EDT

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Scientists expect oil from the Gulf of Mexico to eventually slide up the East Coast, but they say the impact would be minimal compared to the disastrous scene playing out in Louisiana.

Experts say the journey from the Deepwater Horizon spill is long enough that any oil that does arrive would likely appear as a smattering of tar balls.

Larry Cahoon is a professor of biology and marine biology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He says the tar balls would be more of a curiosity than a catastrophe.

The Gulf of Mexico oil made its first appearance Friday at the Florida panhandle and continued to trickle into the loop current that would pull it around that state's peninsula. From there, the Gulf Stream will serve as a highway to carry it up the East Coast.