Thursday 23 November 2017

The Center for the Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem

A tale of two Gulf spills: A research consortium of 19 institutions from 5 countries studying the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico.

C-IMAGE Blog

Whether in the field or in the lab, C-IMAGE highlights the research of our members and our students.
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Nathali Schmid, Student of the Month, August 2017

Nathali Schmid, Student of the Month, August 2017

C-IMAGE is developing computer models to estimate the fate and concentration of oil. But a major factor of predicting this accurately is knowing what the droplet size distribution was at the well head in a high pressure environment. Tasks 1 & 2 are working together to integrate high-pressure experiments and computer models to provide first responders an accurate estimate of where oil is going.

Nathali Schmid, a M.S. student from the Hamburg Univeristy of Technology (TUHH) recently traveled to the University of Western Australia as part of a student exchange program. Working with Dr. Zachary Aman, Nathali is learning new ways to answer the same question, 'what size are the droplets coming from deep sea well during oil spills?' 

How has your experience been traveling to Perth and the University of Western Australia in the student exchange program?

During the ‘2nd Symposium on Deep-Sea Oil Spills’ at Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) in September 2016, I met Prof. Zach Aman for the first time and that is where we figured out a concept for a collaboration. I started to prepare some experiments without even knowing if I will actually be going to Perth. By the time everything was fixed I got really excited.

I have got relatives in Perth which were very welcoming and made Perth feel like home to me immediately.

My first visit to UWA was super impressive as well. The campus with it’s relaxed atmosphere is right next to the beautiful swan river where I enjoy my lunch every now and then.

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R/V Weatherbird Blog-Sam Bosman

R/V Weatherbird Blog-Sam Bosman

In 2008 I moved from the east coast of Canada, where I finished my Master’s degree in Science, to Florida to start my career at Florida State University. I had never imagined that I would still be here after what was supposed to be a three year contract, and be a part of a large oil spill project working with researchers from several institutions across the United States, including international institutions. Since the oil spill in 2010, I have participated on approximately 10 research cruises in the Gulf of Mexico, including a couple of cruises along the coast of Mexico and a cruise to the coast of Cuba. Each cruise has been unique with the opportunity to work with different people and explore new sampling grounds. The most interesting cruise was the Cuba cruise where we sampled areas we had never sampled before and truly put our sampling gear to the test. In addition, we worked with some amazing people from Cuba.

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R/V Weatherbird Blog-Dr. Travis Washburn

R/V Weatherbird Blog-Dr. Travis Washburn

So this is my third Mud & Blood cruise, and my focus is definitely on the mud!

One Gulf Expedition Hub

My name is Travis Washburn, and I work at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi.  My dissertation focused on the impacts of oil on the deep Gulf of Mexico communities living in the mud.  My lab is hoping to use samples collected in the same places over the last several years to determine how communities in the deep naturally change over time.

Without knowledge on these natural changes it is very difficult to determine whether the Deepwater Horizon spill is still affecting animals to this day or if the changes we have seen over time would have happened regardless of the spill.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Joel Ortega-Ortíz

R/V Weatherbird Log-Joel Ortega-Ortíz

USF-Marine Science | Fishing Team, Ecosystem Modeling

I am part of the ecological modelling team of C-IMAGE. More specifically, I am working on an Atlantis model for the southern Gulf of Mexico. During the first leg of the 2017 One Gulf cruise I helped setting and recovering the long line and also served as a translator.

This cruise visited a part of the Gulf of Mexico where I had never been before. Before the cruise I was looking forward to seeing the area and learning about the environmental conditions and the fish species that occur there and how they compare to other regions. I was aware that the Loop Current current flows through the area bringing in water from the Caribbean Sea. So, I expected that we would catch some fish species from the Caribbean region in addition to those we had seen in other parts of the Gulf. I also discussed with other researchers the fact that maps showed a narrow continental shelf and we were concerned that setting the fishing gear at a specific depth would be more challenging than in other cruises. Nevertheless, I was really excited to be part of the expedition and complete the sampling work across the entire gulf. I was also excited to meet our Cuban colleagues and learn about their work and their experiences.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Education Day-Ben Prueitt

R/V Weatherbird Log-Education Day-Ben Prueitt

USF Marine Science | Outreach & Operations

Making expectations for this cruise was difficult, on top of me having only one leg of a Mud & Blood cruise under my belt, a collaborative cruise to Cuba has not occurred in 50 years. I was most excited to meet and interact with Cuban researchers, practice my Spanish, and share perspectives of studying shared Gulf waters. For Americans, Cuba has always been this ‘forbidden fruit’, while the history between our countries has been controversial or cold, I quickly learned the people are warm and welcoming, respectful, and curious about research and cultural differences.

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R/V Weatherbird Blog-Susan Snyder

R/V Weatherbird Blog-Susan Snyder

After this cruise to Cuba, I have circumnavigated the Gulf of Mexico on the R/V Weatherbird II!

I have participated in each Mud & Blood cruise since 2012, from the northern Gulf, to the Yucatan, Bay of Campeche, Texas and now Cuba.  On all of these cruises, I have collected samples for my research, which is measuring levels of toxic hydrocarbons in the tissues of red snapper and golden tilefish.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Adrian Martínez Suárez

R/V Weatherbird Log-Adrian Martínez Suárez

Centro de Investigaciones Marinas-University of Havana | Recent sediments for paleo-environmental studies, Mud team

¿Cuáles fueron sus expectativas en el crucero? ¿Científicamente? ¿Colaborativamente?

Siempre esperé aprender mucho durante la estancia en el WeatherBird II. Ciertamente superó mis expectativas, conocer toda la mecánica de trabajo y colaborar de conjunto con científicos de alto rango a nivel internacional ha sido una de las mejores experiencias de mi vida.

What were your expectations leading into the cruise? Scientifically? Collaboratively?

I was hoping to learn a lot during my stay in the WeatherBird II and of course I did. Certainly it was beyond my expectations, to know all the work procedure and to collaborate with internationals high range scientists had been one of the greatest experiences in my life.

¿Qué era lo que más esperaba durante el crucero?

Sin dudas lo más esperado era experimentar la navegación en alta mar y el trabajo abordo.

What were you most looking forward to during the cruise?

Without any doubts the thing I was more excited about was to experiment the navigation and life at deep waters, and to work on board.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Alexei Ruiz Abierno

R/V Weatherbird Log-Alexei Ruiz Abierno

Centro de Investigaciones Marinas-University of Havana | Sharks diversity, abundance and distribution | Fish team

What were your expectations leading into the cruise? Scientifically? Collaboratively? 

To conduct sampling using bottom longline gear in order to collect information about the fish and sharks communities in the deep water of the NW coast of Cuba. I expect a high level of collaboration and friendship between Cuban and American scientist. Learning and solving the issues that can be present together.

What were you most looking forward to during the cruise?

The success of the expedition and accomplishment of all the goals.

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R/V Weathebird Log-Kristina Deak

R/V Weathebird Log-Kristina Deak

USF College of Marine Science | Molecular biology and genetics of golden tilefish | Fish collection and dissection 

How did your anticipation of this cruise compare with previous ones to the northern or southern Gulf?

I've worked with the Murawski lab in the northern Gulf since June 2012, so I'm familiar with the type of organisms we catch in different depths and regions there.  When we expanded our sampling efforts to Mexican waters in 2015-2016, I think we were all surprised at how the size and assemblage of organisms we caught changed.  Cuba was a completely different animal, since the depths change rapidly and we weren't really sure what sort of bottom type we would be dealing with.  I wasn't sure what we would find, but I was very excited at the prospect of seeing some different species and interacting with the Cuban scientists!

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R/V Weatherbird Blog-Zenaida Navarro

R/V Weatherbird Blog-Zenaida Navarro

My name is Zenaida María Navarro Martínez. I am a PhD student from the Center for Marine Research, University of Havana (CIM-UH). My research topic is Ecology and conservation of marine fishes. My PhD, specifically, is about bonefish and tarpon connectivity through different areas in Cuba. I was on the Weatherbird II in the first leg (May 10-16, 2017). My role in the cruise was the fisheries and I helped in plankton activities too.

My experience on board of Weatherbird II was great!!! Actually, in all the aspects: researcher, personal, commodities, I am very satisfied and I felt better compared to my expectations. I learned, in first place, how to work in an oceanographic vessel. This was my first time on board of this type of vessel and working in deeper areas.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Patrick Schwing

R/V Weatherbird Log-Patrick Schwing

USF Marine Science | Sediments, geochronology, benthic foraminifera | Coring coordinator, 'mud guru'

How did your anticipation of this cruise compare with previous ones to the northern or southern Gulf?

My anticipation of this cruise was similar logistically to some of the cruises to the Southern Gulf of Mexico, where there were many moving parts, personnel and logistical concerns. However, scientifically speaking, there were more unknowns than any of the other cruises because of the lack oceanographic research previously performed or available in these areas and a completely different oceanographic setting than the areas we had previously sampled in the northern and southern gulf.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Sherryl Gilbert

R/V Weatherbird Log-Sherryl Gilbert

USF Marine Science | C-IMAGE Administrator

Well, after months and months of paper shuffling, translations, and countless phone calls, the C-IMAGE team is travelling to Cuba. Most of what we’re doing is the usual Mud and Blood sampling protocol; we’re taking some sediment cores and setting the long line to do some fish sampling.  In this perspective, we are simply doing what we’ve done before. 

However, this one is different, the first of its kind; a true collaborative research cruise between a US and a Cuban research academic institution.

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Melissa Rohal, Student of the Month, May 2017

Melissa Rohal, Student of the Month, May 2017

Melissa Rohal, a PhD student at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, is on a mission to stick up for the little guys. They're not as attractive as dolphins or sea turtles, but benthic macrofauna are all the rage in the deep ocean. Small animals like worms, copepods and nematodes fill a key role in the food web and act as indicator species of the health of the ecosystem.

While working on her PhD at the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, Melissa works to understand the impacts of oil spills on deep-sea ecosystem services provided by meio- and macro-faunal communities. Her researcher and ability to 'stick up for the little guys' makes her the C-IMAGE Student of the Month for May 2017.

What path did you take to make it to where you are now? Bachelor’s degree, internship experience, working experience?

When I started my education all I knew was that I wanted to study the ocean, so I took a broad approach and entered the Marine Science Program at Coastal Carolina University.  The course work looked at all aspects of oceanography including physical, geological, biological, and chemical.  As I progressed through my degree I took an internship at the Ripley’s aquarium while also helping my professors with research.  From these experiences I discovered that research was what I wanted to pursue.  I was unable to get into graduate school right away so I took a job at the Columbus Zoo helping the keepers in the shores area.

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Xiaoxu Sun, Student of the Month, April 2017

Xiaoxu Sun, Student of the Month, April 2017

Natural oil degrading microbes play a critical role in the ecosystem's response to oil. These bio-degraders are found throughout the Gulf, especially in areas of natural seeps. Different groups of bacteria degrade oil in different stages - first, secondary, and late responders. Their role in cleaning up surface spills is highly studied, but how these degradation processes occur at depth might be quite different.

Xiaoxu Sun, a PhD student at Georgia Institute of Technology School of Biology and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, designs experiments to test the biodegradation process in high-pressures. By simulating the conditions microbes experience at depth, Xiaoxu can assess the impacts of dispersants on degrading oil. His work makes him the C-IMAGE Student of the Month of April 2017.

What path did you take to make it to where you are now? Bachelors degree, internship experience, working experience?

I obtained my Bachelors’ degree in Environmental Engineering in China. After that, I came to US to pursue my master’s at Michigan State University, where I studied anaerobic degradation of hydrocarbons in groundwater systems including BETX (benzene, Ethylene, Toluene, and Xylene).  I loved my research experiences at MSU and I wanted to know more about bioremediation processes.

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Katelyn Knight, Student of the Month, March 2017

Katelyn Knight, Student of the Month, March 2017

The role of microbial communities during oil spills gets a bit of attention due to their role in biodegradation of oil and dispersants. Since 2010, research have discovered that dispersed oil inhibits growth of certain bacteria strains, and biodegradation occurs in different phases depending on the weathering of the oil. Katelyn Knight looks to make her mark in microbial research with her studies on their community structure in response to changes in the marine environment. Her work at the University of West Florida makes her or C-IMAGE Student of the Month of March 2017.

What path did you take to make it to where you are now? Bachelors degree, internship experience, working experience?

I obtained my Bachelors degree in marine biology at the University of West Alabama. While I attended undergraduate school, I worked in a research lab at the university under one of my professors and also volunteered on multiple graduate students research projects. I also did my own research project studying grass shrimp in the Pensacola Bay as an undergraduate for a research in biology class. This particular experience allowed me to take teachings and lectures in class and put it to practical use in the field.

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Bekka Larson, Student of the Month, February 2017

Bekka Larson, Student of the Month, February 2017

Many of the Students of the Month have been involved in their research for several years, but few have been involved from Gulf spill through recovery. Bekka Larson, a PhD student at the University of South Florida-College of Marine Science, has studied the sediment of the Gulf from the months following the spill in 2010 through today. It is Bekka's persistence and dedication to understanding the Gulf's recovery which makes her our Student of the Month for February 2017.

Bekka started her work with sediments and oil spills as a research technician with Dr. Gregg Brooks at Eckerd College Department of Marine Science, and managed the collection of critical cores during the Deepwater Horizon (DwH) response. Her research uses high-resolution core sampling to analyze how the seafloor environment changes after major events like oil spills. Sediments act as history books for the Gulf's past, and Bekka is turning the page of our understanding of the Gulf.

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Susan Snyder, Student of the Month, November 2016

Susan Snyder, Student of the Month, November 2016

The public often asks "Is Gulf seafood safe to eat after the Deepwater Horizon spill?" Short answer: Yes. So long as we're not eating gallbladders or fish livers. Susan Snyder studies ecotoxicology at the University of South Florida-College of Marine Science where she takes tissues and bile from fish and analyzes the amount of oil in them.  Susan is the C-IMAGE Student of the Month for November 2016!

Susan's research focuses on how sick a fish gets when it is exposed to oil, specifically exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), the larger and more toxic components of oil. Her research on PAH Exposure in Gulf of Mexico Demersal Fishes, Post-Deepwater Horizon in Environmental Science and Technology. 

What is the focus of your research? How will your findings contribute to the overall understanding of oil spills or oil spill response?

I measure polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in fish tissues.  PAHs are the toxic and persistent component of oil.  We measure PAH metabolites in fish bile to get a level of short-term (days) exposure to oil.  The idea behind this method is similar to a urinalysis drug test of a human.  We also measure PAH levels in fish liver and muscle tissue to understand accumulation of these contaminants.  Chronic exposure and accumulation of PAHs is linked with negative health effects in fish, such as liver cancer.

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Juan Viamonte, Student of the Month, October 2016

Juan Viamonte, Student of the Month, October 2016

Juan Viamonte, a PhD student in the Institute of Technical Biocatalysis at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH), studies microorganisms in extreme conditions. With jars of sediments from the Gulf's floor shipped half-way around the world, Juan cultures the bacteria and repressurizes them to simulate the conditions at the bottom of the ocean. With these lab simulated conditions he is able to provide more accurate estimates of deep-sea biodegradation, important information when developing models during response efforts. The scope of Juans work makes him the C-IMAGE Student of the Month for October 2016.

What is the focus of your research? How will your findings contribute to the overall understanding of oil spills or oil spill response?

My research focus is evaluating how microorganisms can degrade Light Louisiana Sweet (LLS) oil when specific physicochemical conditions, similar to the ones surrounding the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) blowout, are simulated in the lab. With the help of high pressure reactor prototypes, biodegradation reactions are carried out at 150 bar and 4°C, assisted by bacterial communities present in the upper layer of sediments collected near the Macondo well by the C-IMAGE cruises.

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One Gulf Wrap Up-Dr. Steve Murawski

One Gulf Wrap Up-Dr. Steve Murawski

A Final Blog from the Chief Scientist of the OneGulf Survey

Crossing under the Skyway Bridge into Tampa Bay represents the symbolic end of the OneGulf Expedition – a 40 day voyage of discovery of the biology and geology of the Gulf of Mexico.  Our travels throughout the Gulf took us over 4,000 miles and resulted in literally thousands of samples of fish, sediments, water and plankton.  In one sense the cruise is over, but in another sense it is just beginning.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Sherryl Gilbert

R/V Weatherbird Log-Sherryl Gilbert

My name is Sherryl Gilbert and I am the C-IMAGE Program Manager.  On August 17th, I flew into Poza Rica, Mexico to meet my fellow C-IMAGErs just as they were two weeks into their Gulf Wide Fish Survey of 2016.

We are three days into this particular 10-day leg that left Tuxpan, Mexico on August 21 and will arrive in Corpus Christi, Texas on September 1.  I am fortunate to have the opportunity to get away from my more standard C-IMAGE duties and help our students and scientists collect the pieces of this incredible dataset.

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R/V Weatherbird Blog-Kristina Deak

R/V Weatherbird Blog-Kristina Deak

Hi! I'm Kristina Deak, a PhD student with Dr. Steve Murawski at the USF College of Marine Science. This is my fifth year at sea with the Mud & Blood expedition collecting fish with Dr. Murawski.

I primarily study golden tilefish, a demersal fish that loves to make burrows out of mud.  This makes them a particularly attractive species for oil spill research, because they make their homes in the oiled sediment and then remain close by for the majority of their mature lives, leading to continual exposure to contaminants in the vicinity. 

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Dr. Shannon O'Leary

R/V Weatherbird Log-Dr. Shannon O'Leary

I recently discovered that an important component of my research is the fact that I am engaged in a real-life version of Go Fish.

As a postdoc in the Marine Genomics Lab at TAMUCC I study the molecular ecology and conservation genetics of exploited marine fish.

In less science-y terms that means that I use markers in the DNA to identify patterns of connectivity between fish population (so whether fish from one area breed with fish from another area) and explore the interaction with and adaptation on a genetic level and determine how this applies to marine conservation and management of fishes.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Chris Bailey

R/V Weatherbird Log-Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey, fisherman extraordinaire and crew member of FIO's R/V Weatherbird II, has been fishing with C-IMAGE scientists since 2014, and an active crew-member aboard the vessel since 2011. Chris’ role aboard the Weatherbird II during C-IMAGE research cruises is as the main fisherman, setting out and pulling in all of the fishing hooks.

To date, Chris has set and pulled in almost 58,000 hooks!

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Samantha Bosman

R/V Weatherbird Log-Samantha Bosman

My name is Samantha Bosman and I am Research Assistant at Florida State University. Since my last year of undergrad in 2004, I have participated on research cruises almost yearly. Each cruise has been unique and has offered different experiences.

During the One Gulf cruise, I experienced seasickness for the first time as we traveled toward the southern Gulf of Mexico shortly after tropical depression Earl traveled along the coast of Mexico. However, after a full uninterrupted five hours of sleep, I was able to recover and continue collecting samples.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Greta Helmueller

R/V Weatherbird Log-Greta Helmueller

Hello! My name is Greta, and I am an incoming master’s student at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science. I originally hail from the great state of Minnesota, which doesn’t have too many oceans, so this is my first time doing any sort of oceanographic fieldwork ever! Therefore, I thought I’d dedicate my blog post to sharing things that I’ve learned about being on a research cruise as someone who has zero experience with the ocean:

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Simeon Pesch, Student of the Month, July 2016

Simeon Pesch, Student of the Month, July 2016

The behavior and mechanics of deep sea plumes is been studied using samples of liquid oil, "dead oil," expelled from nozzles to view turbulence in the plume and estimate how the droplets distribute in sub-surface and surface plumes. But how does a mixture of oil and gases, like methane and known as "live oil," change droplet sizes and turbulence within a plume? Live oil is the natural way oil discharges from a well head, and Simeon Pesch is working to incorporate live oil into future oil fate models.

Simeon is a PhD student at the Institute of Multiphase Flows at the Hamburg University of Technology in Germany. His work with gas plumes makes him our C-IMAGE student of the Month for July 2016. We asked Simeon to share his research within the blog. 

What path did you take to make it to where you are now? Bachelor’s degree, internship experience, working experience and what initially interested you in working with your TUHH colleagues?

In 2009 I began studying process engineering at the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) and in 2012 I got my bachelor’s degree. During my study I worked as tutor for the Institute of Multiphase Flows (IMS) for several years, teaching undergraduate students fluid mechanics.

In the year 2014 I went to Ghana for an internship in a petroleum engineering company. This was a very intense and instructive experience, not primarily in terms of engineering but also because I learned a lot about the culture and the way of solving problems there.

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Jessica Wonink, Student of the Month, June 2016

Jessica Wonink, Student of the Month, June 2016

During the Deepwater Horizon spill, an estimated 10% of the 210 million gallons spilled remained on the sea floor affecting these benthic (bottom dwelling) ecosystems. This oil finds its way to the sea floor through two known processes, (1) oil floats to the surface, degrades, and sinks to the bottom,known as a MOSSFA event, and (2) sub-sea plumes meet the continental shelf and cover the bottom in oil. To understand the effects of these two processes on benthic ecosystems, researchers at Wageningen University in the Netherlands have set up aquariums to simulate interactions of oil and dispersants to benthic communities.

Jessica Wonink, a M.S. student at Wageningen is studying the interaction of oil and dispersants on macro- and meiofauna found on the sea floor. Jessica is our C-IMAGE Student of the Month for June 2016.

What is the focus of your research, how will your results contribute to improve understanding of oil spills? (What are your research questions?)

I am exploring the possibilities to test the effect of oil spills and related marine snow on benthic meiofauna. These tests have not been done before, so not much is known about the effects that oil spills could have on benthic meiofauna. I want to develop a test method for this. Also I am working with two phd students on an ecotox aquarium experiment with benthic macrofauna. Right now, we are trying to integrate meiofauna in this macrofauna experiment so we can test the effects of oil and marine snow on both groups in the same experimental set-up. By keeping organisms of both groups in the same aquaria, we mimic a more natural environment.

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Marcia Trillo, Student of the Month, May 2016

Marcia Trillo, Student of the Month, May 2016

Our Near-field and far-field modeling group is working to recreate oil spills under varying conditions. Applying strong currents and adding dispersants which changes droplet sizes in computer models can make predicting their eventual fate easier. Marcia Trillo, a M.S. student studying in Dr. Claire Paris' lab, is helping answer questions about oi-water interactions.

Marcia is the C-IMAGE Student of the Month for May 2016. We asked her about her past studies and research for this month's blog.

What is the focus of your research, how will your results contribute to improve understanding of oil spills? (What are your research questions?)

Our goal is to use visualization techniques to trace the evolution of oil plumes and optimize evaluation with observations. We use the CMS (Connectivity Modeling System), which is an oil spill application of the community modeling system, based on a stochastic, multi-scale Lagrangian framework developed by Dr. Claire Paris. The CMS uses the droplet size distribution and biodegradation rates from high pressure experiments as input, and its output is then tested against the data set collected during and post the Deepwater Horizon Event.

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Antonio Nava-Fernández, Student of the Month, April 2016

Antonio Nava-Fernández, Student of the Month, April 2016

The past three months have featured students from Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México who study the deep-sea environments and micropalentology. Antonio Nava-Fernández (Tonio) studies benthic foraminfera in the Bay of Campeche.

Tonio is our C-IMAGE Student of the Month for April.

How are your studies and their results helping to understand oil spills?

The results that were obtained on populations of benthic foraminifera, they help understand the effects generated natural and anthropogenic events such as oil spills. This understanding is possible because foraminifera are sensitive to variations in conditions of water mass where they live, they are affected by changes in nutrient availability, O2 concentrations, organic matter, pH and the presence of contaminants, among other factors. These alterations result in changes in the patterns of abundance, diversity, morphology and isotopic composition of foraminifera.

So that by analyzing these populations in stratigraphic sequences collected in areas that have been affected by a stressful event as it is an oil spill, it is possible to know the status of populations before, during and after the spill.

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Adriana Gaytán-Caballero, Student of the Month, March 2016

Adriana Gaytán-Caballero, Student of the Month, March 2016

¿Por qué decidiste estudiar en la UNAM-ICML?/Why did you decide to study at UNAM-ICML?

Elegí realizar mis estudios en la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) porque es la mejor universidad en mi país, es pública (da la misma oportunidad de estudio a personas con diferentes recursos económicos), y porque los investigadores que trabajan en la misma, desarrollan proyectos en conjunto a nivel internacional, así como proyectos con enfoques en investigación actual y necesaria para nuestro país.

I decided make my studies on our National Autonomus University because it is the best University in Mexico, is public (same opportunity for students of different incomes) and because researchers at UNAM have international projects and focuses on the actual knowledge needed to our country.

En particular, elegí realizar mi posgrado en el ICML (Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología), debido a que la investigadora Elva Escobar-Briones trabaja en el instituto y es mi tutora. La Dra Escobar tiene una excelente trayectoria como investigadora, desarrollando ciencia de alto impacto en un nivel internacional, en particular en temas de mar profundo.

In particular, I decided make my postgrad on ICML (Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología) because professor Elva Escobar-Briones is working there and she is my advisor. Professor Escobar has an excellent research background, developing science of high impact on international level, in particular on deep sea ecosystems.

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Laura Gómez, Student of the Month, February 2016

Laura Gómez, Student of the Month, February 2016

¿Porque decidió estudiar en la UNAM – ICMyL?/Why did you decide to study at UNAM-ICML?

Porque en el ICMyL se desarrollan los temas de investigación que son de mi interés, los cuales están relacionados con estudios micropaleontológicos, especialmente aquellos realizados con foraminíferos en un  contexto paleoceanográfico.

Because the UNAM- ICMyL develops the research topics that are of my interest, which are related to micropaleontological studies, especially those made with foraminifera in a paleoceanographic context.

¿Cómo sus resultados ayudan a comprender los derrames de petróleo?/How do your results help understand oil spills?

Al comparar la abundancia, diversidad y riqueza de poblaciones de foraminíferos bentónicos en secuencias de sedimento superficial submuestreadas a una resolución de 0.2 mm y colectadas alrededor de la zona de derrame de petróleo (Ixtoc) se puede comparar como se comportaban estas poblaciones antes, durante y después del evento, tratar de comprender como este agente externo “nocivo” repercutió en la ecología de organismos bentónicos, cuanto tiempo paso antes de que afectara a la población y  como ha sido la recuperación de los mismos.

By comparing the abundance, diversity and richness of the populations of benthic foraminifera in a sequence of surface sediment subsampled at a resolution of 0.2 mm and collected around the area of oil spill (Ixtoc) we can compare how the population behave before, during and after the event. With this study we try to understand how this "harmful" foreign agent affected the ecology of benthic organisms, how much time before it affected the populations and how long is takes to be recovered.

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Travis Washburn, C-IMAGE Student of the Month, January 2016

Travis Washburn, C-IMAGE Student of the Month, January 2016

'Why does the deep sea matters?' can be answered differently depending on who you ask. If you ask Travis Washburn, PhD student at Harte Research Institute/Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, he'll describe nutrients moving up through the food web, and ecosystem services of communities living in the sediments - the main topic of his research with Dr. Paul Montagna.

Travis looks to take a seemingly isolated region, the deep ocean benthic communities, and link it to human benefits and the impact of future spills to the seafloor. Travis' work makes him the C-IMAGE Student of the Month for January 2016.

What is your research focused on, how will your results contribute to improve understanding of oil spills? (What are your research questions?)

My research is focused on assessing how the Deepwater Horizon blowout affected benthic communities in the deep Gulf of Mexico as well as effects of natural seepage.  I am also looking at specific benefits that the deep-sea communities provide humans, such as trophic transfer of nutrients and chemicals up the food chain or pollutant burial.  My results should prove very useful in determining the extent and effects of future deep-sea blowouts on the seafloor.  They will also show if and how human-caused hydrocarbon releases differ from areas where hydrocarbons naturally enter the environment.  The examination of ecosystem services provided by the deep-sea will try to partly answer the question “Why does the deep sea matter” as well as help to put some value on damages there.

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Inok Jun, C-IMAGE Student of the Month, December 2015

Inok Jun, C-IMAGE Student of the Month, December 2015

We may never know precisely how oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon well on April 20th, 2010, but C-IMAGE modelers are working hard to understand the intricacies of oil blowouts. Inok Jun is a PhD student at Texas A&M University studying with Dr. Scott Scolofsky and working to understand how deeper depths, the addition of dispersants, cross flow currents, and type of oil affect the fate of oil within an ocean.

We asked Inok several questions about her research, past studies, and inspiration to become an oil researcher as part of the C-IMAGE Student of the Month-December 2015.

What is your research focused on, how will your results contribute to improve understanding of oil spills?

My research topic mainly focuses on understanding and predicting the behavior of petroleum fluids in the ocean using the numerical simulation. The transport and fate of petroleum fluids released in the ocean depend on their rise velocity and dissolution rate. Especially in the deep ocean, physical and chemical parameters of bubbles are potentially affected by the formation of clathrate hydrates, yielding unknown mass transfer effects. In my recent study, I have tried to understand the effect of hydrate on fluid particles in the ocean to predict the oil spills more accurately.

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Jennifer Granneman, C-IMAGE Student of the Month, November 2015

Jennifer Granneman, C-IMAGE Student of the Month, November 2015

Tracking fish throughout their life cycle has improved tremendously over the past decades thanks to advancements in isotope chemistry and natural fish tags. Jennifer Granneman studies the otiliths (ear bones) of fish to see if their exposure to pollutants like oil occurred following the Deepwater Horizon spill. Jen is a PhD student at the University of South Florida-College of Marine Science, and is the C-IMAGE Student of the Month for November.

We asked Jen several questions about her past academic career and path into her PhD research, and here experience using lasers.

What is your research focused on, how will your results contribute to improve understanding of impacts of oil spills? What stage of research are you currently in?

As part of my dissertation work, I am using otolith microchemistry to determine whether several offshore fish species in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) were exposed to the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill.  Otoliths are aragonite stones located in the ears of fish that record both fish age and ambient water chemistry throughout the lifetime of the fish.  My project utilizes the ability of fish otoliths to record the environmental conditions that a fish has been exposed to throughout its lifetime to assess the exposure of individual fish to the DWH oil spill.  One of the benefits of measuring otolith microchemistry is that we can establish baseline ambient water conditions that a fish was exposed to prior to the DWH oil disaster. 

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Nine Henricksson, C-IMAGE Student of the Month, October 2015

Nine Henricksson, C-IMAGE Student of the Month, October 2015

Previous students of the month blogs have focused on hydrocarbon degradation at high pressure and in anerobic environments, and remote sensing and optical oceanography. Now we look at a more biological factor studied through C-IMAGE...Microbes.

Although you cannot sea them, the microbes Nine Henricksson works with at the University of West Florida have incredible impacts on hydrocarbon degradation in the Gulf of Mexico. The implications of Nine's work - mapping microbial communities in the Gulf of Mexico determining driving factors for their populations - makes her our C-IMAGE student of the month for October.

Nine is a Master's student at the University of West Florida's Center for Environmental Diagnosis and Bioremediation, studying with Wade Jeffery and Richard Snyder (Virginia Institute of Marine Science). We asked Nine several questions about her path and her research highlighting her as the Student of the Month.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Kate Dubickas

R/V Weatherbird Log-Kate Dubickas

Not many places in the world does time stretch, compress, and become seemingly relative, but the middle of the ocean is one of them.

This includes my last four days aboard the Weatherbird II out here in the near middle of the Southern Gulf of Mexico. A group of five, including myself, Jeremy Browning, Dr. David Hollander, Dr. Patrick Schwing, and Dr. Isabel Romero met up with the Weatherbird II late morning on September 26 to exchange crew and begin our journey back to Saint Petersburg, Florida from Tuxpan, Veracruz.

I was invited on this research cruise as an opportunistic Zooplankton Ecologist. With the fish folks done with their sampling endeavors, our trek back to Saint Petersburg allowed for some Bongo Net deployments along the way; every 45 nautical miles or so. Every 45 nautical miles breaks down to about every 4.5 hours.

My name is Kate Dubickas, I am a second year master’s student at the University of South Florida, and this is my first research cruise where my mission was focused on sleeping in increments of 4 hours and collecting zooplankton.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Jeremy Browning

R/V Weatherbird Log-Jeremy Browning
I have the privilege of cruising back on a transect from Tuxpan, Mexico to St. Pete aboard the RV Weatherbird II, collecting planktonic fish eggs for DNA barcoding. You should know, as I told someone a few days ago: this IS my first rodeo.
 
My previous experiences have been in the realm of freshwater systems, so I am accustomed to grabbing a bucket, a net, and a notebook and wading in a creek for just a few hours collecting crayfish, grass shrimp, and sometimes mussels.
 
Given the lack of experience at sea, and being the type that obsesses over detail, preparing for this trip came with some degree of anxiety. I spent several weeks prior to flying into Mexico planning, packing, and making lists. Of the meticulous planning, I now say: That's cute. Those best laid plans are for naught in the face of circumstance.
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R/V Weatherbird Log-Gustavo Enciso Sánchez

R/V Weatherbird Log-Gustavo Enciso Sánchez

Antes de hacerles saber mis comentarios sobre lo observado en mi corta estancia a bordo del R/V Weatherbird II, deseo agradecer al Dr Murawski la invitación a este crucero.

Before expressing my comments regarding what I observed during my short stay on the R/V Weatherbird II, I want to thank Dr. Murawski for the invitation to participate on the cruise.

En resumen fue una experiencia agradable, observe orden y coordinación tanto en cubierta como en comedor y camarotes. El arte de pesca y tipo de draga empleados fue algo que no había observado antes aunque me llama la atención que no pescaron de noche.

In summary, it was a nice experience, I saw order and coordination on the deck, as well as on the galley and staterooms. I had not seen before the type of fishing gear and dredge used on this cruise and it called my attention that no fishing was conducted at night.

En el B/O Justo Sierra se hace la pesca por arrastre de red y se trabaja durante las 24 horas pero al parecer los objetivos de los estudios difieren. Lamento no haber podido auxiliar más a Brittany y los demás integrantes del equipo de trabajo y me siento un poco apenado de no hablar su idioma. Les reitero mi agradecimiento.

During the cruised on the B/O Justo Sierra, we trawl a bottom net and work 24 hours a day but it seems that the objectives of this study are slightly different.  I am sorry for not being able to provide more assistance to Brittany and the rest of the sediment team and I am embarrassed of not speaking their language. I reiterate my gratitude.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Erin Pulster

R/V Weatherbird Log-Erin Pulster

Day 19 onboard the R/V Weatherbird II for the C-Image II Southern Gulf of Mexico expedition.  Last night, while transiting across Bahia de Campeche, we were able to view the supermoon lunar eclipse, also known as the “blood moon”.  This seems fitting considering our cruises are known as “Mud & Blood”.

I can’t imagine a better place to stargaze and watch such a spectacular event that will not occur again for another 18 years.  Students, scientists and crew were scattered around the Weatherbird with all eyes in the sky.  With every rolling wave, the giant blood moon bounced across the sky, appearing so close as if you could reach out and grab it.  Luna bonita.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Antonio Frausto Castillo

R/V Weatherbird Log-Antonio Frausto Castillo

El trabajo observado para la colecta de organismos y sedimentos nos muestra otras técnicas de pesca así como la toma de las muestras. Donde se puede obtimizar el volumen de muestra para diversos análisis por organismo.

The work observed collecting organisms and sediments samples shows us other fishing techniques as well as taking samples. Where you can optimize the volume of samples for diverse analysis of the organism.

También vemos que el arte de pesca utilizado nos permite obtener organismos de mayor talla y por lo tanto se pueden observar mejor las posibles malformaciones teratogénicas y los posibles efectos de la contaminación en los diversos tejidos y órganos.

We also see that the fishing gear used allows us to obtain greater sizes and therefore we can better observe birth defects and effects of contamination in the various tissues and organs.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Itzel Michael López Durán

R/V Weatherbird Log-Itzel Michael López Durán

En la colaboración del Dr. Steve de la Universidad del Sur de Florida y del Dr. Adolfo Gracia de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México pude observar diferencias en la forma de trabajo; debido a que el arte de pesca nosotros durante 10 años de estudio del Golfo de México hemos trabajado con red de arrastre en zonas costeras por lo que no nos permite obtener muestra de organismos de tallas mayores. Sin embargo en esta ocasión las especies son diversas a las que generalmente se vienen trabajando.

In collaboration with Dr. Steve (Murawski) of the University of South Florida and Dr. Adolfo Gracia of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México could observe differences in the form of work; we have been studying the Gulf of Mexico for 10 years using coastal trawl in coastal zones that do not allow us to collect organism samples of the same sizes. However, this time the species are different from those we generally work with.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Martin Ramirez

R/V Weatherbird Log-Martin Ramirez

La experiencia a bordo del buque de investigación Weatherbird II ha sido de gran importancia en mi carrera profesional, ya que me dejó gran aprendizaje, amigos, asi como la interacción con colegas. Todo ello me permitió intercambiar ideas entre diferentes investigadores y pudimos establecer líneas de investigacion con la información que se ha generado entre las instituciones involucradas en esta campaña oceanográfica.

My experience in board of the research vessel Weatherbird II has been of great relevance for my professional carrer. I take with me a lot of learnings, friends, and the interaction with colleagues. This let me interchange ideas with different scientist and we could established subjects for future research with the information generated by the institutions involved in this oceanographic cruise.

Por medio de observaciones a lo largo de esta campaña, pudimos constatar que ciertos peces se distribuyen por todo el Golfo de México, por ello, es ahí donde radica la importancia de los esfuerzos de colaboración interinstitucionales (UNAM, USF, TAMUCC). La complementación de información, generada y por generar acerca de las condiciones del Golfo de México es de gran relevancia para la sustentabilidad de los recursos que genera este ecosistema.

This journey let us see that certain fishes are distributed all a long the Gulf of Mexico, at that point, the inter-institutional  (UNAM, USF, TAMUCC) cooperation is relevant. The complement of information already generated and still to be generated further, about the conditions of the Gulf of Mexico is fundamental for the sustainability of the resources that this ecosystem generates.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Joel Ortega Ortiz

R/V Weatherbird Log-Joel Ortega Ortiz

This cruise has been a great opportunity to investigate fish species that live near the continental shelf edge in the southern Gulf of Mexico and make comparisons to what previous C-IMAGE cruises have found in the northern Gulf.

While fish caught in the deeper stations (golden tilefish, king snake eel, yellowedge grouper and hake) are familiar to researchers who have done the same work in the northern Gulf, they have seen different species on the shelf in the Campeche Bank.  Information on species diversity across regions of the Gulf will be very valuable for the ecological models we are developing for C-IMAGE.

Results from this cruise will be particularly useful for the Atlantis model I am working on, which focuses on Campeche Bay and the areas potentially affected by the 1979 Ixtoc oil spill. Having first-hand knowledge of the fish communities in this area will be useful for my work at USF.

The cruise has also given me an opportunity to return to a part of the world that is dear to me.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Brittany Verbeke

R/V Weatherbird Log-Brittany Verbeke

A little about myself: I was born in Florida, grew up in Colorado, and came back to Florida to go to Florida State University for undergrad. I graduated last fall with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a minor in Geology, and I am currently working as a lab technician in the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science at FSU.

Previously, I participated in the Northern Ecosystems Research for Undergraduates program through the University of New Hampshire, which included going to Sweden to study the thawing permafrost and presenting a poster at the American Geophysical Union conference. I also worked as a research assistant in the Geochemistry department at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, where I studied stable isotope concentrations of meteorites.

Her Research Interests:

While I am most interested in geology, I love anything and everything to do with isotopes; environmental science encompasses all earth systems whether it is geological or biological, and isotopes provide an important representation of these systems.

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R/V Weatherbird Log-22-23 September Update

R/V Weatherbird Log-22-23 September Update

Location as of 7:34am EDT (11:34 UTC): N 18.9188º, W 94.2364º, Water Temperature: 29.9ºC.

22 September Update (From Shannon O'Leary, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi):

We sampled the deep sights at transect 33 Tuesday. First two sets weren't to exciting, dogfish, lots of wenchmen, a grouper or two and a few snake eels. We did get two large spider crabs, a scalloped hammerhead and we had a bird come hang out a top the Weatherbird flagpole.

We hit the jackpot on the last site (33-150) with 15 tilefish and 15 or so Gulf hake - that means we've caught tilefish in and outside the area potentially affected by the oil spill, similar to the way they've been analyzed in the Northern Gulf. Susan found really high PAHs in their bile (highest ever recorded in a fish if I recall her paper correctly) and now we'll be able to see how that compares to the fish down here.

Today is Amy's birthday, so Thomas disguised the smell of chocolate cake baking in the oven with the shrimp he cooked up for lunch and we managed to keep it all a secret until she came up after her shower. The last station was a long one with that many tilefish getting the full treatment (i.e. Kristina's stuff in addition to all the other samples needed to be taken) and then still needing to work up an additional 15 fish after, so a large piece of chocolate cake was a good way to end the night (I'm still digesting my piece now).

Tomorrow we'll be sampling stations 30-150, 100 and 80.

23 September Update (From Steve Murawski, University of South Florida-College of Marine Science):

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R/V Weatherbird Log-Shannon O'Leary

R/V Weatherbird Log-Shannon O'Leary

“Look at that sea, girls--all silver and shadow and vision of things not seen. We couldn't enjoy its loveliness any more if we had millions of dollars and ropes of diamonds.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables.

As usual, Anne (with an e!) says it best. People sometimes wonder why a kid growing up smack in the middle central Europe with the ocean at least a then hour drive away in every direction would always answer the question of what she wanted to do when she grew up with “Something with fish and the ocean”. I shall tell you why: I have always been fascinated by the world around us, animals, plants, the physical environment and how everything interacts. New places always meant new ecosystems and new things to discover.

And in some ways the ocean trumps terrestrial ecosystems, because while at first glance all you see is water around you, it is actually a complex system comprised of many ecosystems interacting with each other, each with its unique set of organisms and characterized by specific physical and chemical properties and so while it take a little more effort there seems to always be potential to discover more and more different things.

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Nuttapol Noirungsee, C-IMAGE Student of the Month, September 2015

Nuttapol Noirungsee, C-IMAGE Student of the Month, September 2015
Nuttapol "Ice" Noirungsee studies biodegredation of methane and methane-oil mixtures at high pressure and low temperature as a PhD student at Technical University of Hamburg-Harburg (TUHH). The name 'Ice' originally comes from his parents (a Thai tradition for given nicknames), but his colleagues from TUHH think it is for the German high speed rail, the InterCity Express, for his walking speed around the lab and campus.
 
His interest in oil science began through an undergraduate scholarship through Mahidol University where he traveled to met TUHH researchers Rudolf Müller and Ana Valladares Juárez. Keeping in touch with Müller and Gabriela, Nuttapol found an exotic project involving the biologiy and chemistry of petroleum-degrading bacteria. "I was so thrilled that I will know how it feels when building a reactor and talking about oxidizing methane with a monooxygenase!" Nuttapol said. Over the past few years, Nuttapol's research has continued to progress and support the goals of TUHH and C-IMAGE.
 
We asked Nuttapol more about his interests in oil science and how his research contributes to that of TUHH and C-IMAGE.
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Listen to our Podcasts

  • #10 The Risks for Fish +

    #10 The Risks for Fish What happened to the fish in the days and weeks after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? With a suite of Read More
  • #9 Forensic Oceanography +

    Listen to learn how scientists reanalyzed remotely sensed data taken in the late 1970s to study the Ixtoc 1 oil Read More
  • #8 In the Mud in Mexico +

    #8 In the Mud in Mexico “We were of the mind that with studying the Deepwater Horizon in the northern Gulf we weren’t getting a full Read More
  • #7 The Ixtoc Spill: Reflections +

    #7 The Ixtoc Spill: Reflections The Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened just a few years ago, but it might be possible to predict its impact Read More
  • #1 Overview of C-IMAGE +

    #1 Overview of C-IMAGE C-IMAGE PI Dr. Steven Murawski talks to David Levin about the research goals of our center and the importance of Read More
  • #2 Sampling for oil in the sediments in the Gulf of Mexico +

    #2 Sampling for oil in the sediments in the Gulf of Mexico C-IMAGE PI's Steven Murawski and David Hollander on board the Weatherbird II in August of 2012 talking to David Levin Read More
  • #3 The "not-so-visible" impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico +

    #3 The Three years after the BP oil well disaster, scientists are struggling to understand the effects on the Gulf ecosystem. From Read More
  • #4 Fitting the Gulf of Mexico inside a computer: how to build an ecosystem model +

    #4 Fitting the Gulf of Mexico inside a computer: how to build an ecosystem model Mind Open Media's David Levin talks with C-IMAGE members Cameron Ainsworth, Jason Lenes, Michelle Masi and Brian Smith about building Read More
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