Mote Marine Laboratory is collaborating with The National Aquarium and Johns Hopkins University to document the pre- and post-Deepwater Horizon oil spill impact status of Sarasota Bay.
The study will allow researchers to show causality between the release of oil and impacted resources and/or lost human use of those resources and services.
On June 28, Mote research scientists began obtaining baseline data by collecting and analyzing samples from about 50 locations throughout Sarasota Bay, a process that will continue for several months.
Within weeks, researchers will analyze those samples and develop a schedule for obtaining data. Mote is also collecting bottom-dwelling organisms such as clams and taking blood samples from spotted eagle rays and bottlenose dolphins. All will be analyzed for levels of petroleum before the spill, and if necessary, after impacts are seen.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Contaminant Transport, Fate and Remediation will use the empirical evidence gathered to develop mathematical bioaccumulation models that will provide insight into environmental impacts. Scientists from the National Aquarium Conservation Center have worked to develop the experimental design for the study and will be part of the team involved with interpretation, characterization and communication of the study’s findings.
“This work is crucial to understanding long- and short-term impacts from oil,” said Dana Wetzel, Ph.D., manager of Mote’s Aquatic Toxicology Research Program, in a prepared statement. “We are developing a model that can be transferred to other areas that may be impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.”
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