Two Years After Deepwater Horizon: Mote’s Oil Spill Response

Photo courtesy of Mote Marine Laboratory

Photo courtesy of Mote Marine Laboratory

Today, on the second anniversary of the worst oil spill in U.S. history, new questions continue to surface about Deepwater Horizon’s long-term effects on marine life — an ongoing focus of the world-class research at Mote Marine Laboratory.

(From MOTE) — Mote’s oil response is a team effort among a diverse group of scientists who study everything from marine species such as corals, dolphins and sharks, to those who look for the smallest changes in the DNA of organisms. The wide range of research undertaken at Mote is also shedding light on many possible effects of the spill, which could ripple throughout the food web that underpins the health of the Gulf.

Mote scientists and colleagues have worked to guide crucial research and raise awareness about the spill’s impacts through multiple national-level symposia. In 2011 those efforts included “Beyond the Horizon” — a conference hosted by Mote to highlight valuable habitats and needed protections for the Gulf. Mote also joined with partners at the National Aquarium and Johns Hopkins University in November 2011 for the conference “NRDA for the Gulf: Improving Our Ability to Quantify Chronic Damages” — a discussion of how to best study and measure long-term damage to the Gulf. 

Now, as the Gulf research community reports oil-related effects on deep-sea corals and plankton, along with major concerns for the health of dolphins, fish and other species potentially harmed by oil, Mote is more dedicated than ever to its long-term focus on the spill.

“From the early days after the Deepwater Horizon blowout, we have emphasized that this oil spill could have major effects years down the road at every level of the Gulf ecosystem,” said Dr. Michael Crosby, Senior Vice President for Research at Mote. “Now, as the health of many species is called into question, we remain steadfast in our commitment to research for the benefit of this vital body of water.”

Mote’s efforts to study the spill have been strong from the start thanks to supporters in the Southwest Florida community, including the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and individual donors. “We are especially grateful to the community members who helped Mote make a rapid response to the spill,” said Mote President and CEO Dr. Kumar Mahadevan. “As we continue working to understand the effects of this disaster, we express our sincere gratitude for those who have shown their support for the Gulf.”