Monthly Archives: September 2013

Student Activities Water quality monitoring of Barataria Bay and Lake Pontchartrain Louisiana A researcher collects a water sample to assess water quality in Breton Sound, LA.

Louisiana State University (LSU) researchers are intimately familiar with the estuaries that surround them. Since 1994, they have studied the water quality of Breton Sound, Barataria Bay and surrounding coastal waters. River flow into these two drainage basins has been drastically altered and both are now fed primarily by man-made diversions and channels. The Deepwater Read More

Student Activities The Pontchartrain Basin: After the Oil Spill Eelgrass, Rangia clams and oysters collected from the Pontchartrain Basin for oil spill monitoring

Scientists with the University of New Orleans were busy monitoring the coastal ecosystem of the Pontchartrain Basin in Louisiana following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Their monitoring program aimed to track and evaluate the effects of oiling on eelgrass, oysters and clams, and free swimming fish and invertebrates. The information gained from this study builds Read More

Student Activities Sargassum: Floating Nurseries A clump of sargassum floats in the clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Credit: Seabird McKeon

Sargassum seaweed is often found floating freely in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Take a closer look and you will find a community of organisms thriving around these floating islands. Unfortunately, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill threatened these open-ocean habitats and the animals that depend on them. To assess how pelagic Read More

Student Activities Responses of Benthic Communities to Oil Exposure Researchers prepare to deploy a multi-corer which will collect sediment samples from the sea floor.

Initially, much of the oil released from the Macondo well during the Deepwater Horizon disaster floated on the surface of the water. Over time, physical processes drove some of the oil onto beaches and into other shallow habitats of the northern Gulf of Mexico. Researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi are trying to determine Read More

Student Activities Residents and Visitors of Mobile Bay: Oil Spill Impacts Researchers measure the health of a Florida manatee captured in Mobile Bay, AL before fitting it with a satellite tag.

In Mobile Bay, two key species were at risk for contamination as oil entered the surrounding waters after the Deepwater Horizon disaster; the commercially important eastern oyster and the endangered West Indian manatee. These very different species were closely monitored to study effects of oil exposure not only because of their special interest throughout the Read More

Student Activities Phytoplankton and the Oil Spill L to R: Diatom Ditylum brightwelli, dinoflagellate Heterocapsa triquetra (Images/LSU) and a dramatic example of a red tide event (Image/NOAA).

The Deepwater Horizon disaster exposed countless plants and animals to harmful crude oil. Though less visible, phytoplankton were also impacted. Scientists from Louisiana State University are investigating what effects the toxic components of crude oil may have on phytoplankton by studying two common species of the Gulf of Mexico. Classroom Activity: Phytoplankton What is a Read More

Student Activities Monitoring Nursery Habitats After the Oil Spill Researchers use a specially designed net to trap animals that use the marsh during high tide.

Salt marshes and seagrass meadows, common across the northern Gulf of Mexico, are highly productive ecosystems that provide critical habitat to many ecologically and economically important species of finfish and shellfish. Juvenile crabs, shrimp and fish that seek refuge in these habitats were threatened during the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Fortunately, scientists are finding no significant Read More

Student Activities Monitoring Gulf Coast Fisheries Researchers conduct longline surveys, sampling red snapper and other fish, to monitor oil spill impacts.

Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, NGI funded researchers increased the frequency and expanded the coverage of monthly sampling programs across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Data collected by Dauphin Island Sea Lab scientists after the oil spill, is being compared to historical baseline data, allowing for the potential identification of changes in the Read More

Student Activities Mobile Bay Ship Channel: Tracking the Oil Data collection points, used to track oil, along the Mobile Bay Ship Channel.

During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the potential for oil to be distributed into and around Mobile Bay was unknown. The movement and redistribution of dissolved or very small particles of oil-based substances remained a concern long after the well was capped. Consequently, NGI researchers at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab quickly began sampling the Read More

Student Activities Microbes and the Marine Food Web A flow cytometer is used to analyze bacteria, archaea and viruses collected after the oil spill.

Scientists across the Gulf of Mexico, with support from NGI, are evaluating the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the health of the marine ecosystem. To understand the effects on key elements of the marine food web, one Dauphin Island Sea Lab scientist is comparing microbial samples taken before the oil spill to Read More

Student Activities Influence of Weather and Ocean Currents in Predicting Oil Movement After Deepwater Horizon Wind data

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill alone presented a potentially devastating environmental and economic threat to the northern Gulf of Mexico region. Unfortunately, an additional threat loomed as the summer of 2010 marched on and hurricane season became more active. In late June and early July, the oil that had remained offshore for the most part, Read More

Student Activities Impacts of Oil on Spotted Seatrout Oil and water mixture used in exposure experiment on larval and juvenile spotted seatrout.

Call them spotted seatrout, speckled trout, or even specks; whatever name you choose to call them, know they are important fish, both to the environment and the economy. Spotted seatrout live in coastal estuaries of the northern Gulf of Mexico. They, along with other estuarine species, were exposed to varying amounts of oil soon after Read More

Student Activities Gulf of Mexico Beaches and Dunes: Oil Spill Impacts Oil layer uncovered on Pensacola Beach, FL

Shortly after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig, oil began washing ashore on many Gulf coast beaches. Over time, because of wind and waves, oil was buried below the beach surface. The impact of oil on sandy habitats, beach dwelling animals and water quality has not been well studied; therefore, scientists at Florida State Read More

Student Activities Gulf Coast Salt Marshes: Oil Spill Impacts Satellite image of 2010 sampling locations along Louisiana and Mississippi coast

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill put hundreds of miles of the northern Gulf of Mexico coastline in harm’s way. Salt marshes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama received varied amounts of oil during the summer of 2010, ranging from light sheen and tarballs in the east to patchy, heavy oiling in the west and along barrier Read More

Student Activities Florida to Louisiana: Tracing the Oil Florida to Louisiana_Tracing the Oil

The effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico are, for the most part, still unknown. Florida State University has developed an integrated study of the impact of oil on the coastal and ocean marine ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, including the northern West Florida Shelf, extending Read More

Student Activities Fish Health and Oil Exposure Dr. Edelmann’s laboratory assistants use a mass spectrometer to analyze protein samples. Photo credit: MSU

In the past, oil exposure has been associated with devastating infectious disease outbreaks in wild populations of fish. The links between these outbreaks and the oil exposure are circumstantial but they suggest an associated disruption of the immune system. Scientists at Mississippi State University hope to use state-of-the art laboratory techniques to determine if the Read More

Student Activities Ecosystem Modeling Framework: An integrated assessment of the northern Gulf of Mexico An Integrated Ecosystem Assessment incorporates human, biotic, and physical interactions of an ecosystem that result from human and natural system disturbance. Image Credit: DISL

For several years now, a team of scientists from research institutions across the Gulf coast has worked together to develop an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) model for the northern Gulf of Mexico. Researchers, including oceanographers, ecosystem modelers, and population ecologists came together shortly after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to set up the framework for Read More

Student Activities Deep-Sea Red Crabs Live deep-sea red crab collected by Dr. Harriet Perry to study effects of the oil spill. Photo: Belinda Serata/NWF

Many of us are familiar with coastal habitats, like salt marshes and seagrass beds, the services they provide, and the seafood they produce. Unfortunately, the deep sea doesn’t have this type of exposure and is often misunderstood. Scientists from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) are hoping to change that. They are studying this foreign Read More

Student Activities An Overview of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Satellite image of the Gulf of Mexico showing the spreading oil  sheen May 24, 2010. (Photo/NASA)

On April 20, 2010 the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana. The resulting oil spill lasted 87 days and created the largest accidental release of oil the world had ever seen. While much of the northern Gulf of Mexico was spared, receiving little to no oil, other areas were heavily impacted. Read More

Student Activities Coastal Alabama and Mississippi Fish Communities DISL sampling sites in coastal Mississippi and Alabama. Image credit: DISL

The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig was of extreme concern to research scientists, environmental managers, and conservationists. Because of public health concerns, state and federal authorities quickly closed many areas of the northern Gulf of Mexico to recreational and commercial fishing. NGI researchers at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab immediately began studying the Read More

Student Activities Chemical Effects of the Oil Spill: Mississippi Sound Researcers deploy a water sampling device to measure conductivity, temperature and depth (CTD) at different points of the water column. Photo credit: Alan Shiller USM

Since the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, scientists from a variety of backgrounds have been hard at work collecting samples to monitor the effects of the oil on marine environments. Dr. Alan Shiller, a chemical oceanographer from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM), has been studying both direct and indirect chemical effects from Read More

Student Activities Breton Sound Estuary: Water Quality Major lakes and waterways in the Breton Sound estuary. Numbers refer to water testing locations along sampling route. Image: LSU

The Mississippi River Delta region, including the Breton Sound estuary along the southeastern coast of Louisiana, is both environmentally and economically important. The swamps, bogs and marshes of this region account for 40% of all the wetlands in the lower 48 states. Unfortunately, these habitats were put in harm’s way when oil from the Macondo Read More

Teachers and Students Ahoy! Teachers Take to the High Seas to Learn the Science of Oil Spill Research Skype ship-to-shore video conference from deck of research vessel

Middle and high school teachers in Florida put on their sea legs, boarded the R/V Weatherbird II, and conducted science that matters to their students and communities.  Dr. Teresa Greely (L) assists C-IMAGE Chief Scientist Leslie Schwierzke-Wade (middle) as she talks with 3rd graders at Jamerson Elementary in Florida during a Skype ship-to-shore video conference. Read More