Study Continues on Long Term Impacts of Gulf Oil Spill

 A "vessel of opportunity" skims oil spilled after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. (Credit: NOAA)

(Click to enlarge) A “vessel of opportunity” skims oil spilled after the Deepwater Horizon well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. (Credit: NOAA)

New program shares science to answer the question: What impact did the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have on the Gulf of Mexico?

(From The Fishing Wire) — The Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant programs have teamed up with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), a $500 million research program administered through the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, to study the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and dispersant use on the marine environment and public health. Four Sea Grant Oil Spill Science Outreach Specialists have been hired to communicate these research results with people whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Gulf of Mexico, including the fishing industry, tourism industry, ports and harbors employees, public health officials, natural resource managers, emergency responders, and many others.

To date, GoMRI has funded more than $170 million worth of research projects and published more than 380 peer-reviewed journal articles. These studies, combined with many more, are beginning to reveal more information about the impacts that the oil spill has had on aquatic life, wildlife, the environment and people.

Over the next year, the Oil Spill Science Outreach Team will be holding workshops around the Gulf of Mexico to present the latest oil spill findings, as well as receive feedback from communities about oil spill topics of interest.

They will also be creating and distributing bulletins that focus on oil spill science topics such as:
– Dispersants, including their role in oil spill response, their fate, transport and effectiveness and their impact on aquatic life
– Fish, including the impact of the oil spill on fish health, fisheries and seafood
– Oil encounters, including an overview of what oil is and how it is used, the modeling and tracking of oil in the environment and what oil products might be found on our beaches

These are just a few of the topics that outreach efforts will be focused on. To view recent outreach products and a project summary, visit http://gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach.

The science publications are also available in the user-friendly GoMRI database, which is searchable by topic, state, author, or institution at http://research.gulfresearchinitiative.org/. The raw data sets associated with each of these research projects are also available on the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information and Data Cooperative (GRIIDC) database, which can be accessed at https://data.gulfresearchinitiative.org/.

If you would like to learn more about this effort or be placed on our mailing list, please contact your state Oil Spill Research Extension Specialist:

Texas – Contact Chris Hale at chris.hale@tamu.edu. Based in Corpus Christi, Texas, with the Texas Sea Grant College Program, Chris has an interdisciplinary background in marine science, fisheries, restoration and human dimensions. She previously served as a Sea Grant extension agent in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She works primarily on the environmental effects of the oil spill on ecosystems.

Louisiana – Contact Emily Maung-Douglass, Ph.D. at edouglass@lsu.edu. Based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Emily has expertise at the interface of ecology, chemistry and toxicology. She also has studied the impacts of environmental stressors on aquatic animals. She works on the chemical evolution of petroleum and dispersants and the interactions with ecosystems.

Mississippi/Alabama – Contact Larissa Graham at larissa.graham@auburn.edu. Based in Mobile, Alabama, with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, Larissa has outreach experience through her previous work with Sea Grant, the National Estuary Program and the National Estuarine Research Reserves. Her degrees and interest are in fisheries and environmental science and human health. She works primarily on the environmental effects of the oil spill on humans and ecosystems.

Florida – Contact Monica Wilson, Ph.D. at monicawilson447@ufl.edu. Based in St. Petersburg, Florida, with Florida Sea Grant College Program, Monica has used her physical oceanography background to model circulation and flushing of coastal systems in the region and the impacts of tropical storms on these systems. She focuses on the distribution, dispersion and dilution of petroleum under the action of physical ocean processes and storms.

GoMRI “In the news” is a reposting of articles about GoMRI-funded research (published by various news outlets). The author’s interpretations and opinions expressed in these articles is not necessarily that of GoMRI.