Gulf Oil Spill Science Outreach Answers Unanswered Questions

by / Newsroom Ink on July 20, 2015
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Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, fishermen, visitors and residents of the Gulf coast are still filled with unanswered question about what exactly happened during the spill and the lingering effects. Photo: Ed Lallo/Newsroom Ink

by Ed Lallo/Gulf Seafood News Editor

Hale

“Residents still had many questions about how the oil spill affected public health, the quality of the water, and the health of the plants and animals living in the Gulf,” said Christine Hale. Photo: Sea Grant

Five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, fishermen, visitors and residents of the Gulf coast are still filled with unanswered question about what exactly happened during the spill and the lingering effects. A new oil spill science outreach program now allows Gulf Sea Grant specialists to examine what types of information these target audiences need and develop tailor-made solutions providing answers to these unanswered questions.

With funding from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, and administration by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, Sea Grant Oil Spill Science Outreach Specialists from Florida to Texas are providing information through free seminars and publications.

“Last fall, the Outreach Team interviewed with more than 500 coastal residents and discovered that residents still had many questions about how the oil spill affected public health, the quality of the water, and the health of the plants and animals living in the Gulf,” said Christine Hale, Texas Sea Grant Oil Spill Science Outreach Specialist at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. “People are still concerned with the impacts of dispersants and oiling of habitats such as marshes and beaches.”

The five state Outreach Team has been involved with the studying lingering questions using the best science available. It will soon be releasing outreach publications focused on topics that include:

  • Dispersant use, fate, and effectiveness and how dispersants impact aquatic animals
  • Fisheries landings, fish health, and seafood safety
  • Oil on our beaches

During the past few months free seminars across the Gulf have been conducted that have covered such topics as dispersants, current research and natural resource management. Three upcoming science seminars are scheduled giving the public the opportunity to hear from leading scientific experts on impacts of the spill. Upcoming seminars include:

  • Impacts of oil on coastal habitats: July 22, Temple Terrace, FL (Also available via webinar)
  • Navigating shifting sands: Oil on our beaches: Aug. 5, Pensacola (Also available via webinar)
  • Impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil spill to Gulf Wetlands: Aug. 11, Slidell (Not available via webinar)
Graham

“The Sea Grant programs use research, outreach and education to foster understanding, wise use and stewardship of coastal and marine resources,” said Larissa Graham. Photo: Sea Grant

“The Sea Grant programs use research, outreach and education to foster understanding, wise use and stewardship of coastal and marine resources,” said Auburn Univesity‘s Larissa Graham, Oil Spill Science Outreach Specialist with Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant. “Sea Grant Specialists are embedded within the coastal communities which puts us in a unique position to share oil spill science with those whose livelihoods depend on a healthy Gulf of Mexico.”

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative is an independent and academic 20-member Research Board guiding the research focus and the funding decisions to ensure the intellectual quality, effectiveness and academic independence. Administered by the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, it was established using funds that are not associated with oil spill penalties.


Seminars are free but registration is required. Read more about the events at: http://gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/presentations/.

Questions about the oil spill? Reach out to the specialist in your area: http://gulfseagrant.org/oilspilloutreach/contact-a-member-of-the-oil-spill-outreach-project/.

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About the Author

About the Author: Ed Lallo is the former editor of Gulf Seafood News and CEO of Newsroom Ink, an online brand journalism agency. .

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