Tag: Gulf of Mexico

Study says old, weathered oil from spills is even more toxic to fish than fresh crude

Scientists still studying Deepwater Horizon spill impacts

Oil from BP's failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig and the Macondo well spread across the ocean in May 2010. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.
Oil from BP’s failed Deepwater Horizon drill rig and the Macondo well spread across the Gulf of Mexico in May 2010. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

It’s been six years since BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico failed disastrously, but scientists are still learning about how the oil affected ocean species and ecosystems.

In findings from new study released this week, researchers from the University of California, Riverside and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science reported that old, weathered oil from the spill is even more toxic than fresh crude oil. Ultraviolet light changes changes the chemistry of the oil, the scientists said, further threatening numerous commercially and ecologically important fishes.

The Deepwater Horizon oil disaster was the worst on U.S. history. More than 3 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf, contaminating spawning habitats for many fishes. The oil also killed deep sea corals and had a devastating effect on dolphin reproduction. Continue reading “Study says old, weathered oil from spills is even more toxic to fish than fresh crude”

New study says Deepwater Horizon oil disaster caused fetal and newborn dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico

 Lung abnormalities found in 88% of perinatal dolphins in spill zone

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New research shows how harmful the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster was for dolphins in the spill zone. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Scientists studying the aftermath of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico say results of a recently completed four-year study of dolphin strandings confirm that the spill took a toll on marine mammals.

“Our new findings add to the mounting evidence from peer-reviewed studies that exposure to petroleum compounds following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill negatively impacted the reproductive health of dolphin populations living in the oil spill footprint in the northern Gulf of Mexico,” said Dr. Teri Rowles, a veterinarian with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Mammal Health and Stranding Response Program and a co-author on the study. Continue reading “New study says Deepwater Horizon oil disaster caused fetal and newborn dolphin deaths in the Gulf of Mexico”

Activists to protest Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leasing

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A NASA satellite image shows oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster spreading across the Gulf of Mexico in May 2010.

Grassroots groups open new front in the battle against fossil fuels and climate change

Staff Report

While conservation groups celebrated the Obama administration’s recent decision to temporarily bar new oil and gas leases off the Atlantic Coast, activists aren’t finished battling the fossil fuel juggernaut quite yet.

Opening a new front in the climate war, hundreds of Gulf Coast residents are joining forces with local and national environmental and social justice groups to oppose a federal offshore fossil fuel lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico — a region that has a long economic dependence on fossil fuel exploitation, so it’s unclear if the protest movement will resonate with a majority of locals. Continue reading “Activists to protest Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leasing”

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 “Study IDs Gulf Coast ecosystems at risk”

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

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

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’

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

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