Impacts of oil spills on estuaries

Monday, July 1, 2019 – Moss Point, MS

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This seminar was organized by the Sea Grant Oil Spill Outreach Team and hosted by the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Moss Point, MS. The focus of the seminar was to learn more about the impacts of oil on estuarine habitats. Our speakers covered an array of topics, including estuarine circulation, phytoplankton, submerged aquatic vegetation, and fish after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

View the agenda here and the flyer here.  Check out bios of the speakers here.

Dr. Monica Wilson of Florida Sea Grant welcomed participants to the seminar and explained the Sea Grant-GoMRI oil spill science outreach program as well as the importance and goals of the seminar. View presentation slides here.

Dr. Brian Dzwonkowski is an assistant professor at University of South Alabama/Dauphin Island Sea Lab. He gave a brief description of estuarine circulation and how it can impact an estuary’s water quality. He also shared how the circulation in Mobile Bay can impact the movement of nutrients as well as oil. View presentation slides here.

Dr. James Pinckney is the Director of the Belle W. Baruch Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at the University of South Carolina. He spoke about the impacts of oil on estuarine phytoplankton. He shared that increased oil exposure can hinder the growth of phytoplankton, which can also impact organisms that feed on them. View presentation slides here.

Dr. Charles Martin is a Research Assistant at the University of Florida’s IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station. His presentation was about the impacts oil has on submerged aquatic vegetation. In laboratory experiments, plants were exposed to sediments contaminated with oil. They found that plants exposed to oil had reduced flowering, changed the root structure as well as shortened the root length. View presentation slides here.

Chelsea Hess is a Ph.D. Candidate at Louisiana State University. She shared results of their laboratory experiments on the Gulf killifish. Results indicated that exposure to oil impacted the cardiovascular function and reproduction of the killifish and increased developmental abnormalities as well. View presentation slides here.

Dr. Jill Awkerman is a research ecologist with the Gulf Ecology Division – Environmental Protection Agency. She spoke how the EPA conducted spatial assessments of Sheepshead Minnows in the Gulf of Mexico. She described the models used in the experiments and shared how they were used to examine population growth.

After all the speakers finished their presentation, a Question and Answer (Q&A) panel session was held. Those in attendance and online were allowed to ask the speakers questions about their research and science they had shared.

Questions? Please contact Monica Wilson with UF/IFAS Florida Sea Grant at monicawilson447@ufl.edu or (727) 553-3516.

Featured photo courtesy of NOAA.