Ecotoxicology of the Gulf Oil Spill: A Holistic Framework for Assessing Impacts

Principal Investigator(s): 

Sean Anderson, Gary Cherr, C. Pete Peterson

The largest oil spill in U.S. history, infused with dispersants released into the waters of the northern Gulf of Mexico in response to this still-unfolding disaster, has created an unprecedented threat to the ecology of coastal and marine communities. To date, most efforts have been directed towards halting the further release of oil, documenting the appearance of oil on the sea surface, and quantifying conspicuous impacts. With apparently limited ecotoxicological information, governmental and private entities are preparing to create and fund large-scale and long-term monitoring efforts across the Gulf. Our working group is an assemblage of ecologists, chemists, and ecotoxicologists with experience in coastal oil spills and coastal and pelagic ecology; some are engaged in collecting in situ data in the wake of the Gulf Coast spill. Our group will create a conceptual framework outlining potential long-term, direct, and indirect ecotoxicological impacts upon Gulf populations and communities, with a primary goal of providing this information to guide decision-making and funding entities on an expedited time table.

       

All photos by Foster Creppel

Biographies of the Working Group participants.

More information about this NCEAS research project.