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.

Full Description: Zooplankton have high temporal and spatial variability. Therefore, they need to be assessed before oil impact and regularly thereafter, to interpret what changes are causally related to oil spills. Both chronic and acute releases of PAHs have deleterious impacts on zooplankton growth rates, secondary production, consequent accumulation of biomass, and thus prey availability to higher trophic levels of fishes. Exposures for days, or weeks, to oil concentrations between 50-300 ug l-1 have sub-lethal impacts on laboratory populations of zooplankton (NRC, 1985), and PAHs are toxic to all life stages of marine fish (Logan, 2007).

Petrochemicals are particularly dangerous to eggs and larvae (Hjermann et al., 2007), with dispersants increasing the bioavailability of PAHs to fishes (Ramachandran et al., 2004). Nevertheless, after the IXTOC-1 spill in June 1979, the respective mean total zooplankton biomass a few years later during August 1980 and August 1981 had remained the same, or actually perhaps even increased, compared to a mean total biomass measured over a similar station grid in August 1978, before the oil spill (Guzman del Proo et al., 1986). However, the species composition and relative abundances of this zooplankton community of the Bay of Campeche did change.

There are two main questions to be addressed. What were the effects of hydrocarbons on pelagic and benthic communities, including planktonic and benthic algae, foraminifera and mollusks? Did BP hydrocarbons fuel a “Dirty Blizzard” by stimulating phytoplankton and zooplankton blooms, or was the observed pulse in accumulation rates due to other factors?

We are investigating the effect of hydrocarbons on key benthic ecosystems, delivered directly from the wellhead and via a “Dirty Blizzard” mechanism for the major sedimentation event during mid-2010. Projects take advantage of an extensive pre-spill dataset resulting from research on the ecology of natural and artificial reefs (Addis et al., 2008; Patterson et al., 2009; Patterson et al., 2010; Dance et al., 2011). Quarterly video samples, collected from 2004 to 2010 with remotely-operated vehicles (ROV) at 27 artificial reef sites off northwest Florida, provide baseline data on the spatial and temporal variability in reef fish community, size, and trophic structure. Similar samples were taken at 23 natural and 28 artificial reefs. Pre- versus post-spill diet and muscle stable isotope data also exist to examine shifts in trophic structure, as well as to discern whether oil carbon has been transferred to upper trophic levels.

Ongoing analysis of liver and bile samples provide baseline data to estimate level of exposure to PAHs experienced by fishes across the geographic range of sampling. We are sampling reef fish communities quarterly over the next three years with an ROV. Reef fishes also are being sampled and stomach contents fixed for diet analysis, muscle tissue sampled for stable isotope analysis, otoliths sampled for testing for growth effects, liver and bile sampled to test for exposure to PAHs, and liver and other tissues analyzed for potential pathogens affecting fish. Video samples are being analyzed to test for shifts in community structure over time, but also to examine recruitment dynamics of fishes observed at reef sites. Trawl data from the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Fall Groundfish and Summer SEAMAP stations across the northeastern GOM shelf also is being analyzed.

 

Task 4 Publications

Sargassum coverage in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico during 2010 from Landsat and airborne observations: Implications for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill impact assessment

Sargassum coverage in the northeastern Gulf o…

How much Sargassum was in contact with oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill? Usi...

07-13-2016

Progression of a Gulf of Mexico food web supporting Atlantis ecosystem model development

Progression of a Gulf of Mexico food web supp…

This article develops a marine food web matrix for the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) based on ...

05-23-2016

Assessing the impacts of oil-associated marine snow formation and sedimentation during and after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Assessing the impacts of oil-associated marin…

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest in US history, unprecedented for the ...

02-19-2016

Natural and unnatural oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico

Natural and unnatural oil slicks in the Gulf …

When wind speeds are 2–10 m s−1, reflective contrasts in the ocean surface make oil s...

01-25-2016

Sun glint requirement for the remote detection of surface oil films

Sun glint requirement for the remote detectio…

Natural oil slicks in the western Gulf of Mexico are used to determine the sun glint ...

01-25-2016

Refinement of the critical angle calculation for the contrast reversal of oil slicks under sunglint

Refinement of the critical angle calculation …

It has long been observed that oil slicks under sunglint can reverse their optical co...

01-25-2016

Surface oil footprint and trajectory of the Ixtoc-I oil spill determined from Landsat/MSS and CZCS observations

Surface oil footprint and trajectory of the I…

Surface oil footprint and trajectory of the Ixtoc-I oil spill determined from Landsat...

01-25-2016

Oil slick morphology derived from AVIRIS measurements of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: Implications for spatial resolution requirements of remote sensors

Oil slick morphology derived from AVIRIS meas…

Using fine spatial resolution (~ 7.6 m) hyperspectral AVIRIS data collected over the ...

01-25-2016

The role of Mississippi River discharge in offshore phytoplankton blooming in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico during August 2010

The role of Mississippi River discharge in of…

The role of Mississippi River discharge in offshore phytoplankton blooming in the nor...

12-10-2015

Spectral and spatial requirements of remote measurements of pelagic Sargassum macro algae

Spectral and spatial requirements of remote m…

Remote detection of pelagic Sargassum is often hindered by its spectral similarity to...

11-24-2015

Passive acoustic monitoring of beaked whale densities in the Gulf of Mexico

Passive acoustic monitoring of beaked whale d…

Beaked whales are deep diving elusive animals, difficult to census with conventional ...

11-24-2015

Changes in Red Snapper Diet and Trophic Ecology Following the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Changes in Red Snapper Diet and Trophic Ecolo…

Red Snapper Lutjanus campechanus were sampled at 33 natural and 27 artificial reef si...

11-24-2015

Extracting Oil Slick Features From VIIRS Nighttime Imagery Using a Gaussian Filter and Morphological Constraints

Extracting Oil Slick Features From VIIRS Nigh…

Satellite images of reflected sunlight have been used to detect and monitor oil spill...

11-24-2015

A Rapid Response Study of the Hercules Gas Well Blowout

A Rapid Response Study of the Hercules Gas We…

On 20 April 2010, the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig lost well control while drilling...

07-08-2015

PAH Exposure in Gulf of Mexico Demersal Fishes, Post-Deepwater Horizon

PAH Exposure in Gulf of Mexico Demersal Fishe…

Following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) blowout, we surveyed offshore demersal fis...

07-07-2015

Detecting surface oil slicks using VIIRS nighttime imagery under moon glint: a case study in the Gulf of Mexico

Detecting surface oil slicks using VIIRS nigh…

Using data collected over the Gulf of Mexico during night between May 2012 and Septem...

07-07-2015

Recent publication studying possible lethal effects of oil and dispersants on Ctenophores

Recent publication studying possible lethal e…

A recent study from the University of Delaware published in Aquatic Biology explored ...

06-12-2015

Habitat and diet of lionfish in the northern Gulf

Habitat and diet of lionfish in the northern …

Habitat-specific density and diet of rapidly expanding invasive red lionfish, Pterois...

09-02-2014

Enhancing the Ocean Observing System to Meet Restoration Challenges in the Gulf

Enhancing the Ocean Observing System to Meet …

Enhancing the ocean observing system to meet restoration challenges in the Gulf of Me...

08-06-2014

External skin lesions and PAH in fish

External skin lesions and PAH in fish

Prevalence of External Skin lesions and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Concentration...

07-02-2014

Accuracy of SeaWiFS Ocean Color Products

Accuracy of SeaWiFS Ocean Color Products

On the Accuracy of SeaWiFS Ocean Color Data Products on the West Florida Shelf Tradi...

06-27-2014

Microalgal production in the sand

Microalgal production in the sand

Sand bottom microalgal production and benthic nutrient fluxes on the northeastern Gul...

06-27-2014

Using SIPPER3 for anomalous particle detection

Using SIPPER3 for anomalous particle detectio…

Detection of Anomalous Particles from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Using the SIPPE...

06-27-2014

Using MODIS and MERIS to detect seeps

Using MODIS and MERIS to detect seeps

In search of oil seeps in the Cariaco basin using MODIS and MERIS medium resolution d...

06-27-2014

Related Biological Impact Activities

Podcasts from The Loop

The Loop is a series of podcasts which take an in depth look at C-IMAGE research. Partnering with Mind Open Media reporters Ari Daniel Shapiro and David Levin, our researchers share the importance of their studies and how they help our understanding of oil spills. David and Ari have produced eight podcasts and have more in the queue. The podcasts are linked below. Plug in and learn about our research!

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