As volunteers train and policymakers debate, scientists are pooling their datasets for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). It is the behind the scenes portion of region-wide preparations for the impending arrival of oil on land. Along the Gulf coast states, researchers are offering years of sediment, water and plankton samples to the cause of assessing pre-impact conditions in the Gulf. Meanwhile, researchers from the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology (NIUST) are collecting samples from the seafloor and water column closer to the source of the leaks.
As the oil leak continues, many of us feel helpless to mitigate the ecological impact of the spill. But this is just the beginning of the cleanup efforts and there is plenty that can be done right now. Here is the breakdown of what is currently being launched regarding response efforts for the Gulf oil spill, and what we can do to contribute.
An oil slick originating from a rig about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans, which is dumping oil into the Gulf of Mexico at a rate of approximately 25,000 barrels per day, is drifting toward the Alabama, Florida and Louisiana coasts, and scientists are still assessing the ecological impact that will result. In the Q&A below, three members of the Ecological Society of America’s Rapid Response Team discuss the current and possible future damage of this spill and the effects it could have on the Gulf region.
It’s been roughly 80 years since the red imported fire ant (Solenopsis invicta) arrived from South America to Mobile, Alabama in soil used as ballast to weigh down boats. Needless to say, fire ants have adapted well in southern states like Texas, Louisiana and Florida, disrupting native wildlife and plants and causing problems for people ranging from shorting out street lights to stinging limbs.
But in the late 1990s and early 2000s, scientists brought over several strains of parasitoid flies from Argentina in an attempt to naturally eradicate the fire ants. A scientist recently found that one particular fly strain may be able to completely wipe out fire ants in northern Florida.
January’s recent cold snap not only affected local produce and nonnative Iguanas in Florida, but the endangered sea turtles as well. Sea turtles recover in a warming pool Photo Credit: NOAA Acclimated to milder water off of Florida’s coasts, cold-blooded sea turtles become unable to swim or eat as water temperatures drop, leaving the reptiles stunned and hypothermic. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC),...