[Coral-List] oil and dispersants on corals and reefs

Sheppard, Charles Charles.Sheppard at warwick.ac.uk
Fri May 21 06:19:29 EDT 2010

A salutary comment on amount of knowledge on the oil-reefs question:  A few years ago I tried to commission a review article for Marine Pollution Bulletin on effects of oil (with and without dispersants) on reefs and corals.  I had noticed, either directly or from literature, that in some places oil seemed to literally float over the tops of reefs, float on and leave them unscathed, whereas in other areas damage was much more extensive to appreciable depths.  Tidal state when oil passed was one obvious factor, but I asked around about what differences there might be in the soluble toxic components between, say, Indonesian crude, Arabian crude, Venezuela crude and so on, and received mixed and only vague comments.  Age of oil clearly seemed to be important too, and also the time that it had already floated on the surface (in hot sunlight, loosing lighter and toxic fractions by breakdown or evaporation) before reaching reefs. 

But I got insufficient comments of great importance.  I was not talking here about e.g. reef flats or salt marshes which become simply coated - that much is obvious.  Nor about some of the excellent and early work on direct toxicity, with or without dispersants, now many years old and corresponding well regarded and understood.

Anyway, no review materialised!  As editor of that journal, let me open the invitation again.  Maybe we still dont have enough useful to say... or do we?

Best wishes

Professor Charles Sheppard
Dept Biological Sciences
University of Warwick
Coventry, CV4 7AL,
charles.sheppard at warwick.ac.uk
tel (44) (0) 2476 524975

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