Sakib Mahmud tests combinations of passive acoustic monitoring equipment to find the best method to detect and measure marine mammal populations affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. His findings will help improve our understanding of long-term environmental impacts of the spill on deep-diving marine mammals and aid in improving oil spill regulations, monitoring, and mitigation efforts.
Recently, researchers and outreach staff from Consortia funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) participated in a variety of events to share science related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Here’s a picture tour that shows teams helping the public learn more about Gulf of Mexico research.
Marine oil snow is the largest commuter of carbon to the seafloor and occurs when oil and marine particles aggregate and sink through the water column. Previous studies show that oil and dispersant significantly increased marine microorganisms’ production of exopolymeric substances (EPS), an extremely sticky goo that holds marine snow together. Maya Morales-McDevitt conducts mesocosm experiments investigating how certain naturally occurring nutrients influence EPS production and oil degradation.
The Smithsonian recently published an article about research, funded by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), that investigates oil spill impacts on different life stages of mahi mahi. Highlights include what is involved in conducting this cutting-edge research, what is being discovered about mahi mahi that is not oil-spill related, and the multiple scientific perspectives that help develop a comprehensive understanding of these important fish.
Scientists analyzed sediment cores from two sites near the Macondo wellhead to characterize possible spill impacts on benthic foraminifera (single celled organisms with a hard shell). The team found elevated Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations and a significant decrease in density and species diversity for foraminifera.
A 12-day science expedition on the exploration vessel Ocean Intervention II embarks June 11 to investigate how oil, gas, and chemical dispersants affect marine life and their environment deep in the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists and outreach personnel onboard the vessel will interact with the public and school-age children using streaming video, social media, and question-and-answer sessions.
Trust in scientific findings is especially important when the research relates to your livelihood and health as it did for commercial and recreational fishing communities after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Many scientists conducting early studies on the spill believed that they were considered trustworthy, like firemen and policemen. However, it became apparent as the spill unfolded that the relationship of the public, science, and trust was complex and sometimes on shaky ground.
Scientists conducted genetic sequencing on bacteria to document the oil-associated groups in sediment affected by marine oil snow post-Deepwater Horizon. The researchers observed increases in bacteria that degrade aerobic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and anaerobic sulfate-reducing bacteria in sediment collected from September-November 2010.
The Deepwater Horizon event highlighted the need for more economical and ecofriendly methods to accurately track and study ocean currents. Scientists with the Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment II (CARTHE II) spent two years testing different structures and materials to develop a practical, cost-efficient, and biodegradable drifter design.
Scientists tested a new analytical method for a fast and comprehensive characterization of organic compounds in marine sediments. The Rapid Analyte Detection and Reconnaissance (RADAR) method couples atmospheric pressure photoionization in positive ion mode (APPI-P) with Fourier transform ion cyclotron mass spectrometry (FTICR-MS).