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UMCES Horn Point Laboratory scientists to study oil spill effects in Gulf of Mexico

Cambridge, Md. (June 9, 2010) A team of scientists from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory will travel to the Gulf of Mexico later this summer to study the potential effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on plankton and fish communities in the northern Gulf. The National Science Foundation has awarded a $107,961 Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant for the expedition, which will be led by Laboratory Director Dr. Michael Roman and include faculty members Drs. Bill Boicourt and Jamie Pierson.

"Data collected over the last five years by our research team gives us a scientifically robust starting point for assessing how the Gulf ecosystem has changed in the wake of the spill," said Dr. Roman. "In previous years, we've been able to assess the effects of low oxygen bottom waters on the living resources in the northern Gulf of Mexico. We hope to shed light on the environmental consequences of the spill by comparing data to those previous research cruises."

The research cruise is scheduled for late August 2010 and will be coordinated with additional scientists from Oregon State University, East Carolina University and the University of Akron, monitoring fish and microbial communities in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Given the economic importance of the Gulf of Mexico to commercial fisheries - about 20% of the U.S. total landings representing about $991 million - and recreational fishing which supports nearly 25% of the nation's recreational saltwater fishing jobs, this research is critical in assessing the possible effects of the oil spill on the northern Gulf ecosystem.


Contact: Christopher Conner
University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

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