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 University are researching what effect the buried oil is having on the beach and dune environments that have been impacted across the northern Gulf of Mexico.
Classroom Activity: Barrier Islands
Barrier islands are dynamic habitats that support many uniquely adapted plants and animals. In this lesson, students will learn about the characteristics of beaches, dunes and other barrier island habitats, the forces that drive them and how they were made vulnerable during the oil spill.