[Coral-List] Oil and Coral

Ed Blume eblume2702 at gmail.com
Tue May 4 11:13:26 EDT 2010

I admire the creativity of your experiments, Gene.

You might have answered my question by the tar-like oil, in that, crude and
refined (to whatever extent) oil are different.  I take it that crude simply
may not be as toxic as refined.

Ed Blume
Madison, WI

On Mon, May 3, 2010 at 12:35 PM, Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu> wrote:

>      Oil/coral follow up. Some of you have questioned the value of my
> simple experiments. I agree with the criticism but unfortunately that
> is about all I had to go on. For more than 40 years I have been
> trying to convince some chemical/biologists and/or responsible
> agencies or universities to do the needed long-term research. I ran
> into a brick wall every time. Biological effects of crude oil is not
> a popular subject and those who do it will likely be called
> biostitutes by their fellow biologists. Oil related research is a no
> no for a number of reasons. 1) Obtaining a permit to do realistic
> in-the-field research in the US is nearly impossible. I have tried to
> aid many researchers (including those who did the experiments in
> Panama described in the IPIECA report).
> <
> http://www.ipieca.org/activities/oilspill/downloads/publications/reports/english/Vol3_Corals.pdf
> >
> Every request that I am aware of was turned down. In-field research
> (including laboratory research) is especially needed to test the
> efficiency of various biodegrading bacteria as well as dispersants
> etc. 2) Apparently there is fear that any study that does not live up
> to preconceived results could be a career ending move for the
> researcher. Those emotions are clearly exhibited by responses on the
> coral-list. Oil research creates poor public relations for the agency
> or organization that does the study. 3) Who will fund the research?
> If the American Petroleum Institute funds the research (as they did
> in the early 1970s) results would lack credibility.  I did my simple
> experiments on my Keys vacation because it could not be done
> officially and also, I was convinced oil would kill coral. The
> results was a major surprise but made me feel better about the 2 days
> I spent in the witness box. In the early 1970s no government agency
> would do fish-related research around offshore rigs. Everyone knew
> rigs were great places to fish so agencies stayed away, because
> senator Scoop Jackson was attempting to nationalize the industry. No
> agency such as NOAA's (MUST), Man Under the Sea Technology, group
> would go near a rig and MMS did not yet exist. MMS presently does
> support fish and coral studies beneath oil rigs, and, 4) Unless the
> results of toxicity studies proved high toxicity what journal would
> publish the results? Lack of journals, other than grey literature,
> and number 2 above, is why much of the research funded by API back
> then was never published. The IPIECA report drew heavily on API
> funded research, most of which was performed by Drs. Jack Anderson
> and Jerry Neff at Texas A&M University.
>      One of the major findings of the A&M API funded research was
> that crude oil is relatively nontoxic compared to processed oils.
> Crude after all is a product of nature rather than a man-made
> chemical. Witness the existence of highly diverse chemosynthetic
> communities scattered throughout the deep gulf where there are
> natural seeps. Incidentally those chemosynthetic communities are
> protected from drilling by MMS. Take away their source of food and
> they die.
>      There is a table in the IPIECA report that lists many studies
> done with diesel, and lubricating oils which are the most toxic.
> Those who fear oil companies will be quick to note who sponsored the
> IPIECA report. I checked the NOAA website provided by Walter Goldberg
> but was unable to find anything about oil and corals. I did learn
> that they are celebrating their 200th anniversary. If they are 200
> years old I must be 300. I sure would  like to see the research done
> on "crude" performed by Cervino. Where is it published? Same journal
> as rapid wasting disease?
>      The Gulf of Elat study is well known and often quoted. Coral
> mortality there was limited to coals exposed on the reef flat down
> wind not only of an oil refinery (what kind of oil?) but also a
> fertilizer factory and terminal.
>      So yes, I agree my little test is not the last word on oil
> toxicity but as I said earlier, the past is the best teacher.
> Consider what happened during WW II. Maybe this present disaster will
> stimulate the much needed research. We have enough well-meaning
> resource managers, we need more objective science. Gene
> --
> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
> ------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
> University of South Florida
> Marine Science Center (room 204)
> 140 Seventh Avenue South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
> Tel 727 553-1158----------------------------------
> -----------------------------------
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