Shining light on Deepwater Horizon impacts to the Florida Panhandle

December 4, 2019 – Pensacola, FL

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Organized by the Sea Grant Oil Spill Outreach Team and hosted by the Pensacola Library, the focus of the seminar was to learn more about the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Florida Panhandle. Our speakers covered an array of topics including degradation of buried oil on Pensacola beaches, lasting effects of the oil spill, seafood safety, and impacts of oil on sea turtles and dolphins. View the agenda here and guest speaker bios here.

Presentation slides and videos from the event:

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 slides here.

Dr. Markus Huettel, a coastal oceanographer and faculty member at Florida State University, spoke about the degradation of buried oil on Pensacola Beach. During his presentation he explained how different environmental factors can affect the time it takes for oil to decompose. View slides here.

Richard Snyder is a professor and director at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Eastern Shore Laboratory at the College William & Mary. He gave a brief overview of where the oil went during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as well as spoke about the toxicity of oil and dispersants. View slides here.
Chery Lassitter is currently the lead Chemist for the National Seafood Inspection Laboratory at NOAA Fisheries. She shared NOAA’s response to the Gulf oil spill and spoke about the seafood safety concerns during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She also talked about the chemical tests that were conducted on collected samples to ensure the safety of reopening the Gulf fisheries. View slides here.

Dr. Alissa Deming is the staff veterinarian at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. She spoke about dolphin deaths in the Northern Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She explained how the oil spill impacted dolphins, causing weight loss, lung disease, and other diseases. She also shared the effects to unborn calves whose mothers were impacted by the oil spill. View slides here.

Dianne Ingram is a restoration biologist for the Department of the Interior. She gave an overview of sea turtle movement patterns and life cycle stages to help understand where the turtles may have encountered oil during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. She summarized the injury assessment for different species of turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and explained what caused some of these injuries. She also updated the attendees on the sea turtle restoration projects currently underway. View slides here.

After all the speakers finished their presentations, those in attendance and online asked the speakers questions about their presentation topics.

Featured photo: Tourists enjoy Pensacola Beach on a late afternoon in October 2018. (Tara Skelton)