Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Oil from Deepwater Horizon disaster entered food chain in the Gulf of Mexico

Date:
March 20, 2012
Source:
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Summary:
Since the explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico in April of 2010, scientists have been working to understand the impact the disaster has had on the environment. For months, crude oil gushed into the water before the well was capped. A new study confirms that oil from the Macondo well made it into the ocean's food chain through the tiniest of organisms, zooplankton.

Oil rig in Gulf of Mexico.
Credit: Photo by James Pierson.

Since the explosion on the BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, scientists have been working to understand the impact that this disaster has had on the environment. For months, crude oil gushed into the water at a rate of approximately 53,000 barrels per day before the well was capped on July 15, 2010. A new study confirms that oil from the Macondo well made it into the ocean's food chain through the tiniest of organisms, zooplankton.

Tiny drifting animals in the ocean, zooplankton are useful to track oil-derived pollution. They serve as food for baby fish and shrimp and act as conduits for the movement of oil contamination and pollutants into the food chain. The study confirms that not only did oil affect the ecosystem in the Gulf during the blowout, but it was still entering the food web after the well was capped.

Oil, which is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons and other chemicals, contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can be used to fingerprint oil and determine its provenance. The researchers were able to identify the signature unique to the Deep Water Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico.

"Our research helped to determine a 'fingerprint' of the Deepwater Horizon spill -- something that other researchers interested the spill may be able to use," said Dr. Siddhartha Mitra of Eastern Carolina University. "Furthermore, our work demonstrated that zooplankton in the Northern Gulf of Mexico accumulated toxic compounds derived from the Macondo well."

The team's research indicates that the fingerprint of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill could be found in some zooplankton in the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem at low levels, as much as a month after the leaking wellhead was capped. In addition, the extent of the contamination seemed to be patchy. Some zooplankton at certain locations far removed from the spill showed evidence of contamination, whereas zooplankton in other locations, sometimes near the spill, showed lower indications of exposure to the oil-derived pollutants.

"Traces of oil in the zooplankton prove that they had contact with the oil and the likelihood that oil compounds may be working their way up the food chain," said Dr. Michael Roman of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.

The study was led by East Carolina University with researchers from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, Oregon State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and U.S. Geological Survey. The paper, "Macondo-1 well oil-derived polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in mesozooplankton from the northern Gulf of Mexico," was published in the February issue of Geographical Research Letters.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Siddhartha Mitra, David G. Kimmel, Jessica Snyder, Kimberly Scalise, Benjamin D. McGlaughon, Michael R. Roman, Ginger L. Jahn, James J. Pierson, Stephen B. Brandt, Joseph P. Montoya, Robert J. Rosenbauer, Thomas D. Lorenson, Florence L. Wong, Pamela L. Campbell. Macondo-1 well oil-derived polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in mesozooplankton from the northern Gulf of Mexico. Geophysical Research Letters, 2012; 39 (1) DOI: 10.1029/2011GL049505

Cite This Page:

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. "Oil from Deepwater Horizon disaster entered food chain in the Gulf of Mexico." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120320142100.htm>.
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. (2012, March 20). Oil from Deepwater Horizon disaster entered food chain in the Gulf of Mexico. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120320142100.htm
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. "Oil from Deepwater Horizon disaster entered food chain in the Gulf of Mexico." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120320142100.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Great British Farmland Boom

The Great British Farmland Boom

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 17, 2014) Britain's troubled Co-operative Group is preparing to cash in on nearly 18,000 acres of farmland in one of the biggest UK land sales in decades. As Ivor Bennett reports, the market timing couldn't be better, with farmland prices soaring over 270 percent in the last 10 years. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Change of Diet Helps Crocodile Business

Reuters - Business Video Online (Apr. 16, 2014) Crocodile farming has been a challenge in Zimbabwe in recent years do the economic collapse and the financial crisis. But as Ciara Sutton reports one of Europe's biggest suppliers of skins to the luxury market has come up with an unusual survival strategy - vegetarian food. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

How Mt. Everest Helped Scientists Research Diabetes

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) British researchers were able to use Mount Everest's low altitudes to study insulin resistance. They hope to find ways to treat diabetes. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins