Tag: Gulf of Mexico

NASA study shows link between Deepwater Horizon spill and coastal wetlands erosion

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

‘Dramatic, widespread shoreline loss …’

Staff Report

Oil washed toward shore after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster is a big factor in coastal erosion rates, according to scientists with NASA and the U.S. Geologicial Survey who tracked the changes along the Gulf of Mexico. Their research shows a pattern of dramatic, widespread shoreline loss” along  the Louisiana’s coast in Barataria Bay, located on the western side of the Mississippi River Delta.

The study compared images of the shoreline  taken a year before the oil spill with images taken during a 2.5 year span after the spill. Scientists also compared shoreline losses from storm-induced erosion with losses linked to shoreline oiling. Storm-induced erosion occurred at isolated shoreline sections, but the pre-spill shoreline from 2009 to 2010 was largely stable. Continue reading “NASA study shows link between Deepwater Horizon spill and coastal wetlands erosion”

New federal study outlines impacts of seismic air gun blasting in Gulf of Mexico

Oil and gas exploration would have widespread effects on marine mammals

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Seismic blasting is bad for marine mammals in the Gulf of Mexico. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Conservation advocates have long been saying that blasting the Gulf of Mexico with seismic airguns to find more oil and gas beneath the seafloor would result in unacceptable harm to marine mammals and other marine life, and a new draft environmental study by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management seems to confirm those concerns.

The study was completed under the terms of a court-ordered settlement of a lawsuit brought by environmental groups. It shows that the blasting would have widespread impacts on marine life, including injuries to endangered sperm whales and Bryde’s whales. The draft report outlines possible mitigation measures, including closure areas where seismic blasting would be banned, and reductions in the amount of activity permissible each year. Continue reading “New federal study outlines impacts of seismic air gun blasting in 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

dolphins Deepwater Horizon spill
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”