Impact of Mexican Gulf oil spill on deep sea coral reefs
Dorinda Ostermann on voyage to monitor damage
Dorinda Ostermann joined scientists on board the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) RV Nancy Foster studying the deep sea (300-500m) coral reef communities in the Gulf of Mexico and their response to the oil spill. The cruise is funded by BP, with all materials copied & catalogued by a BP observer, on the understanding that the data will not be published or discussed for 3 years.
Dorinda’s job was to deploy two sediment trap mooring arrays to sample the particle flux every 6 days from August until December. A Remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) has also completed many photo mosaics in areas mosaiced before the spill. The ROV manipulator arm also collected corals for laboratory analysis, specifically looking at DNA for evidence of damage by the oil. The scientists neither saw nor smelled the oil, suggesting that the dispersants were working. The oil subsurface around 100 meters was nevertheless observed during the profiling of the water column dissolved organic composition.
Dorinda is the Manager of the Bloomsbury Environmental Isotope Facility, run jointly by UCL Geography and Earth Sciences.