I’m pretty sure anyone and everyone who reads this is familiar with the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s off-shore drilling rig explosion. Since the tragedy occurred, scientists have been scrambling to conduct studies in order to gauge the spill’s impact and predict the future course of the affected ecosystems.
Penn State Professor of Biology Chuck Fisher is in a fairly unique situation to contribute insights into the subject. Fisher has been sending deep water cameras and scientific instruments onto the floor of the Gulf of Mexico for years, marking each of the spots and returning every year in order to catalog changes.
So what will he find this year in the aftermath of the disaster? Even Fisher isn’t sure. The Gulf’s seabed constantly spews small amounts of oil and natural gas, which the local inhabitants have evolved to interact with. But none of them ever have encountered Dispersit before; a toxic chemical compound used to break-up oil slicks. And neither have they encountered the sheer volume of oil that some experts believe may have sunk to the ocean’s floor.
This is a great example of why it is important to fund science at all times, and not just in response to an emergency or the topic of the moment. Because the Penn State team has been working in the region for so long, there is a vast amount of data available for everyone trying to solve the problem to use.
Anyways, check out the video for some very cool ocean animals.