ScienceMagazine — 29 mai 2010 — What are and will be the effects of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill on the wildlife in the area?
Scientists to study impact of gulf oil spill on marine food webs
Shells from oysters, clams, and periwinkles hold clues about the ways and rates at which harmful compounds from the spill are being incorporated into the Gulf's marine food web.
New reports are surfacing every day about the immediate impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Gulf Coast wildlife, especially as the oil reaches the sensitive marshlands along the coast. But how will these communities be affected over time? Scientists currently know very little about how long it takes for the hydrocarbons and heavy metals in crude oil to work their way through marine food webs. To address this issue, California Academy of Sciences researcher Peter Roopnarine is working with Laurie Anderson from Louisiana State University and David Goodwin from Denison University to collect and analyze three different types of mollusks from the Gulf Coast.
These animals are continually building their shells, and if contaminants are present in their environment, they can incorporate those compounds into their shells. Roopnarine and his colleagues will study growth rings in the shells - much like scientists would study tree rings - to determine how quickly harmful compounds from the oil become incorporated into the animals' homemade armor. They will also sample tissues from the animals over the next four months to test for hydrocarbons, and will measure changes in growth rate and survivorship. In addition to its value in informing conservation and policy decisions, this research will have direct implications for the region's commercial oyster fisheries.
NASA Satellites' View of Gulf Oil Spill Over Time
Two NASA satellites are capturing images of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which began April 20, 2010, with the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. This series of images reveals a space-based view of the burning oil rig and the ensuing oil spill, through May 24. The imagery comes from the MODIS instruments aboard NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites. The oil slick appears grayish-beige in these images. The shape of the spill changes due to weather conditions, currents and the use of oil-dispersing chemicals.
The images in this video were selected to show the spill most clearly. The full image archive is available at http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov. For more information and imagery about the oil spill, visit NASA's Oil Spill website. Imagery and information about the oil spill is also available on NASA's Earth Observatory Natural Hazards website.