Point Sur Rotates Crew During Oil Spill Research

Students and scientists onboard USM's oceanographic research vessel Point Sur are in the midst of oil spill related research in the northern Gulf of Mexico. (Photo source: WLOX)

(Click to enlarge) Students and scientists onboard USM’s oceanographic research vessel Point Sur are in the midst of oil spill related research in the northern Gulf of Mexico. (Photo source: WLOX)

USM’s research vessel, Point Sur, is in the midst of an oil-spill related study in the northern gulf. The 135 foot ship docked at its homeport in Gulfport Tuesday, as the ship rotated crews.

(From WLOX) — The Point Sur is allowing students and scientists at the University of Southern Mississippi, to answer some critical questions about the dynamic environment that makes up the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Water flow or transport is among the key study components.

“It’s interesting to be able to characterize kind of how organisms are transported from the offshore to the inshore areas. Along the inshore, there’s a lot of nursery habitats that are really key for many larvae fish species, as well as their prey,” said researcher Alison Deary with USM.

Heavy duty cranes aboard Point Sur enable researchers to maneuver large equipment that takes measurements of gulf waters and brings aboard samples of seafloor sediment. An onboard “nursery” keeps plankton immersed in various sea water samples.

“Just like a fancy fish finder that you’d have on a boat, but a little bit higher tech,” said assistant professor Ian Church, as he explained his sonar gear.

High tech sonar equipment provides underwater imagery.

“This feature here is a barge that was sunk as part of an artificial reef,” he explained, pointing to an image on a computer screen.

“We really focus on the student training, the young faculty training, early career folks. Because that’s what we are, we’re a university. So we want to give experiences to our young folks, because they’re building careers around this ship,” said Dr. Monty Graham, who chairs the marine science department at the University of Southern Mississippi.

This study is funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. And the work has direct implications for the oil spill.

Read the full article here: http://www.wlox.com/story/30428597/point-sur-rotates-crew-during-oil-spill-research

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