Study Finds Effects of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Coral Wider Than PredictedSource: Penn State University | 30 July 2014
A new discovery of two additional coral communities showing signs of damage from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill expands the impact footprint of the 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The discovery was made by a team led by Charles Fisher, professor of biology at Penn State University. A paper describing this work and additional impacts of human activity on corals in the Gulf of Mexico will be published during the last week of July 2014 in the online early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The footprint of the impact of the spill on coral communities is both deeper and wider than previous data indicated,” said Fisher. “This study very clearly shows that multiple coral communities, up to 22 km from the spill site and at depths over 1800 m, were impacted by the spill.”
The oil from the spill in the Gulf of Mexico has largely dissipated, so other clues now are needed to identify marine species affected by the spill. Fisher’s team used the current conditions at a coral community known to have been affected by the spill in 2010 as a model “fingerprint” for gauging the spill’s effect in newly discovered coral communities.