Urgent call for pre-oil assessment in the Gulf of Mexico

We have been called into action by the ESA Office! It is in catastrophic situations like the large oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that the ecological scientific community must rapidly respond as a cohesive force. The Ecological Society of America and the ESA Student Section are organizing a Rapid Response Action to alleviate the adverse effects of the oil spill in the shores of Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama. These actions include sharing of datasets to evaluate biodiversity impacts and hands-on volunteering:

1) SHARING OF DATASETS:

The aim is to develop a pre-impact wildlife assessment to make monitoring possible in impact sites faster and more accurate. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission and NOAA have begun similar programs for sediment samples in FL, MS, AL and LA.

If you have datasets and/or photographs (published or unpublished*) that could be used to evaluate the biodiversity of the shores of the Gulf of Mexico before the oil spill (e.g. transects, surveys, etc), please submit them to ESAStudentSection(at)gmail.com with the subject line “Pre-spill information” at your earliest convenience. Word, Excel, CSV, JPG or similar formats are welcome. Please make sure to attach a detailed explanation (and metadata) of the material being made available (i.e. variables, date of census, location, etc) so that we will then be able to collate all the information in the most effective way. Ultimately, summaries of these datasets will be provided to researchers based at the Gulf of Mexico shore for them to establish monitoring sites.

*Please note that published and unpublished datasets will be treated with extreme ethical care. The authorship rights will remain with the person who collected the data. We have no interest in publishing your work, but to evaluate as efficiently as possible the pre- and post-spill status of the impacted area so further administrative measurements can be taken by academic and research institutions, and ultimately the Government.

2) VOLUNTEERING: Please visit the following links for information. Attention: Keep in mind that many of these volunteer efforts require specialized training and protective gear (see links below more info) because petroleum is toxic to the respiratory system and skin.