My name is Travis Washburn, and I am a Ph.D. candidate at the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M – Corpus Christi. My research focus is on deep-sea infauna, or the small worms, crustaceans, and mollusks that live in the mud on the deep seafloor (benthic communities).
There are many different animals that live in the sediment, some can thrive in areas that have low oxygen or are contaminated by oil and other chemicals, while others will die. Thus by examining the animals that make up the communities at specific locations we can begin to determine whether the areas above them are healthy or not. I am using the benthic communities to help assess the damages done by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the deep Gulf of Mexico.
During this cruise we are examining the benthic communities around the IXTOC wellhead which produced a large spill off of Mexico close to 40 years ago. By doing this we hope to learn about the changes we may expect in the future around the DwH wellhead.
Today just so happens to be my 32nd birthday, and I thought it only appropriate that I write the blog for today. While it is a little disappointing that I cannot have a beer today, being out at sea with a good group of scientists, and by now my friends, more than makes up for it. I actually got a cake with candles, and per Mexican tradition took a large bite out of the cake before cutting it. I am still trying to get the last remnants of icing out of my beard.