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