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A Comparative Analysis of an Oil Spill on the Biota Inhabiting Several Gulf of Mexico Shipwrecks

A Comparative Analysis of an Oil Spill on the Biota Inhabiting Several Gulf of Mexico Shipwrecks

March 2014

by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Engergy Management

BOEM scientists aboard the R/V Pelican investigate six shipwrecks in the Gulf of Mexico in water depths ranging from 470 feet to more than 4,700 feet in a National Oceanographic Partnership Program-sponsored study: "A Comparative Analysis of an Oil Spill on the Biota Inhabiting Several Gulf of Mexico Shipwrecks."

The study is funded by BOEM through an interagency agreement with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, a cooperative agreement with George Mason University, a contract with C&C Technologies, support from the University-National Oceanographic Laboratories System (UNOLS), and in-kind support from the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). Other collaborators include Droycon Bioconcepts, Inc., the PAST Foundation, the University of Mississippis Center for Marine Resources and Environmental Technology (CMRET), Montana State University, Deep Sea Systems International (DSSI), and the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON).

From March 16 through March 21, 2014, this multidisciplinary team of scientists representing the fields of marine archaeology, microbial ecology, molecular biology, geochemistry, geology, and corrosion studies collected samples using the ROV Global Explorer to determine if four of the shipwrecks and their resident biological communities were exposed to oil and/or dispersant from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. The team also collected similar samples from two shipwrecks located outside of the oil spill area for comparison. These shipwrecks three World War II-era steel-hulled vessels and three 19th century wooden hulled sailing ships have been previously investigated by BOEM. See Project Overview.

Additionally, scientists deployed experiments at these six shipwrecks during the March cruise to study biofilm formation and corrosion processes and will return to the shipwrecks in July 2014 to recover them. The team also collected 3D laser and acoustic scans of the shipwrecks to document their current condition and provide baseline information for long-term monitoring purposes.

Once the fieldwork and analysis is complete the study - "A Comparative Analysis of an Oil Spill on the Biota Inhabiting Several Gulf of Mexico Shipwrecks" - will be published. For more information, visit the project website at: http://mbac.gmu.edu/mbac_wp/gulf_wrecks/, view it on Facebook at MBAC.gmu.edu, and follow the Twitter feed @MBAC_GMU.

http://www.boem.gov/Comparative-Analysis-of-an-Oil-Spill-on-the-Biota-Inhabiting-Several-Gulf-of-Mexico-Shipwrecks/
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