Study IDs Gulf Coast ecosystems at risk

Sea turtles as most vulnerable species

Gulf Coast sunset.

Rising sea level and warming ocean temps are putting Gulf Coast ecosystems at risk, according to a new study. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Sea turtles breeding along the Gulf Coast are among the species deemed most vulnerable to climate change and rising sea level, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded in a new vulnerability assessment that looked at four Gulf ecosystems and 11 species dependent on them.

The ecosystems are mangrove, oyster reef, tidal emergent marsh and barrier islands. The species are roseate spoonbill, blue crab, clapper rail, mottled duck, spotted seatrout, eastern oyster, American oystercatcher, red drum, black skimmer, Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and Wilson’s plover.

Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is thought to be the most vulnerable species across the Gulf Coast. The report identified the main threat as loss of nesting habitat to sea level rise, erosion, and urbanization. Continue reading

Chemical dispersants may affect natural communities of oil-degrading bacteria after spills


A NASA satellite image shows the spread of oil in the Gulf of Mexico after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Lab tests show nuanced response to application of oil dispersant chemicals

Staff Report

Lab tests suggest that more thought must be given to how dispersant chemicals are used during and after an oil spill. In some cases, the combination of dispersants and oil may actually inhibit microorganisms that can break down hydrocarbons, according to marine scientists. Continue reading

Gulf of Mexico dolphin die-off linked with exposure to oil from 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster

‘Dolphins are particularly susceptible to inhalation effects due to their large lungs, deep breaths and extended breath hold times’


A bottlenose dolphin in the Gulf of Mexico. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico led directly to the worst dolphin  die-off on record in the northern Gulf of Mexico, scientists reported last week.

The new study published in the online journal PLOS ONE, linked the dolphin deaths with exposure to oil from BP’s failed Macondo Well. The scientists found that dead bottlenose dolphins stranded in the northern Gulf of Mexico since the start of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have lung and adrenal lesions consistent with petroleum product exposure. Continue reading

Still more questions than answers about the ecological effects of oil dispersants used in Gulf of Mexico

Scientists say more study needed before the next big spill

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster approaches the Alabama coastline. Courtesy U.S. Navy.

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster approaches the Alabama coastline. Courtesy U.S. Navy.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Fallout from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster is still rippling through the Gulf of Mexico — and through the scientific community studying the effects of the largest oil spill on record.

Along with 210 million gallons of crude oil that leaked from BP’s failed deep-sea well, cleanup workers applied 1.84 million gallons of chemical dispersant intended to break down the oil and prevent it from reaching the shoreline in massive quantities. Continue reading

Study finds massive amounts of oil from Deepwater Horizon disaster buried in Gulf of Mexico sediments

Oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico in July, 2009. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

A NASA satellite image shows oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico.

‘It’s a conduit for contamination into the food web …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Five years after BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig spewed 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, a significant amount of that oil remains buried in seafloor sediments.

A new study by a Florida State University researcher estimates that about 6 to 10 million gallons of oil are still there, perhaps decomposing slowly, but probably affecting Gulf ecosystems.

“This is going to affect the Gulf for years to come,” said researcher Jeff Chanton. “Fish will likely ingest contaminants because worms ingest the sediment, and fish eat the worms. It’s a conduit for contamination into the food web,” he said. Continue reading

Environment: EPA eyes new rules for oil spill dispersants

Public comment sought on proposed standards

Dispersant being applied to the Gulf of Mexico.

Dispersant being applied to the Gulf of Mexico.

Staff Report

FRISCO — When BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig spewed millions of gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico nearly five years ago, the emergency response included the massive use of oil dispersants, chemicals meant to break up potential oil slicks before they reached the shoreline. Continue reading

Environment: Lawsuit seeks more government transparency for Gulf of Mexico fracking


So how much fracking is there, exactly, in the Gulf of Mexico? Photo courtesy NASA Earth Observatory.

Fruitless FOIA request prompts legal action

Staff Report

FRISCO — The public may soon know more about offshore fracking operations in the Gulf of Mexico, as the Center for Biological Diversity sues the federal government in a quest for more transparency.

According to the lawsuit, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement must disclose permits, reports, emails and other documents related to the federal government’s approval for oil and gas companies to frack offshore wells in the Gulf. Continue reading


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