Smithsonian Highlights Research on Oyster Resilience During Oil Spills

Oysters, credit Louisiana Sea Grant College Program Oyster Art 2004.

Oysters, credit Louisiana Sea Grant College Program Oyster Art 2004.

The Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal published an article that describes how oysters (that filter up to 50 gallons of water a day) fare under hazardous environmental conditions. One such hazard was the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident that was followed by several riverine freshwater releases in an attempt to keep oil away from vulnerable Louisiana shores, which support several seafood industries.

Read the article How to Survive an Oil Spill: Oyster Edition featuring scientist Sean Powers (University of South Alabama and the Alabama Center for Ecological Resilience or ACER). Powers has uncovered three key factors – salinity levels, genetic diversity, and presence/absence of dispersant – that affected whether oysters exposed to Deepwater Horizon oil died or survived.

For more information:

  • Read the recent Sea Grant oil spill science brochure Oysters and Oil Spills.
  • View this short video (an excerpt from the film Dispatches from the Gulf by Sreenscope Productions) where Sean Powers describes his oyster research.

By Nilde Maggie Dannreuther. Contact with questions or comments.


GoMRI and the Smithsonian have a partnership to enhance oil spill science content on the Ocean Portal website.

The GoMRI is a 10-year independent research program established to study the effect, and the potential associated impact, of hydrocarbon releases on the environment and public health, as well as to develop improved spill mitigation, oil detection, characterization and remediation technologies.  An independent and academic 20-member Research Board makes the funding and research direction decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence of the GoMRI research.  All research data, findings and publications will be made publicly available.  The program was established through a $500 million financial commitment from BP.  For more information, visit

© Copyright 2010- 2019 Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) – All Rights Reserved. Redistribution is encouraged with acknowledgement to the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI). Please credit images and/or videos as done in each article. Questions? Contact web-content editor Nilde “Maggie” Dannreuther, Northern Gulf Institute, Mississippi State University (