[PAST EVENT] Investigating Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacts on fisheries resources

April 8, 2011
VIMS - Watermen's Hall, McHugh Auditorium
1375 Greate Road
Gloucester Point, VA 23062Map this location
On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil rig resulted in the tragic deaths of 11 crewmen. It also marked the beginning of one of the worst environmental disasters in U.S. history. After the rig collapsed, Louisiana sweet crude oil poured unchecked into the northern Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months before flow was stopped at the source over a mile beneath the ocean's surface. Researchers within the DISL's Fisheries Oceanography of Coastal Alabama (DISL-FOCAL) program were in a unique position to respond immediately to the DWH oil spill due to an established six-year sampling schedule designed to address state fisheries management goals. Since 2004, the FOCAL program has maintained a near-monthly ichthyoplankton and zooplankton survey off the coast of Alabama. This survey provides a valuable baseline of abundances and associated natural variability for larval fishes and their zooplankton prey. FOCAL researchers complimented ongoing activities (e.g., assessments of floating Sargassum habitats and bacterial and primary production measurements), and participated directly and indirectly in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process. Preliminary observations from the FOCAL program relevant to DWH impacts on fisheries resources include a significant decrease in overall plankton biomass, increased incidents of coastal hypoxia, and shifts in both zooplankton community structure and planktonic food web dynamics.

Dr. Frank Hernandez, Research Senior Marine Scientist, Dauphin Island Sea Lab, received his M.S. from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1996 and his Ph.D. from Louisiana State University in 2001. He then moved to a post-doc at NOAA Beaufort Laboratory and subsequently at Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL). Since 2006 he has been a Research Senior Marine Scientist at DISL. His research interests include the ecology of marine fishes, with an emphasis on early life stages. Specific interests include biological and physical processes that drive recruitment dynamics, biological-physical coupling in estuarine and marine environments, larval fish ecology, and ichthyoplankton identification and taxonomy.

[[seitz,Dr. Rochelle Seitz]]

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