[Coral-List] BP Crude Oil Found in Heterotrophic Corals

Quenton qdokken at gulfmex.org
Fri Apr 12 08:25:04 EDT 2013

I made my first dive on a platform structure in the Gulf of Mexico in 1969,
but did not encounter Tubastraea until the mid-1990's on a deepwater
platform.  Its spread since then has been amazing.  In October 2012 we spent
a week diving artificial reef structures (i.e. platforms) on a filming
project and all supported expansive growths of Tubastraea.


Quenton Dokken, Ph.D.
Gulf of Mexico Foundation, Inc.

361-882-3939 office
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qdokken at gulfmex.org

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-----Original Message-----
From: coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
[mailto:coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov] On Behalf Of Douglas Fenner
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 5:03 PM
To: Eugene Shinn
Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] BP Crude Oil Found in Heterotrophic Corals

Yes, Tubastraea is and exotic in the Gulf of Mexico.  I know of no evidence
it was there before oil platforms, and there were lots of oil platforms
before any were found on the Flower Garden Banks.  The pattern of spread in
the Caribbean is consistent with them having been introduced, most likely
from the Pacific but also possible from West Africa.

On Wed, Apr 10, 2013 at 8:45 AM, Eugene Shinn
<eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>wrote:

> Dear Steve, I just read the paper you published with Porter, Sammarco,
> and Cake (I should have read it before my previous post) and agree that
> this was most certainly BP oil. The photo (figure 2) showing the slick
> not far from the platform is proof enough. In addition the samples were
> taken between 12 and 20 meters below the surface. That corals at that
> depth contained oil is clear evidence the oil contained Corexit. Without
> surfactants oil would have been restricted to  surface waters above the
> zone of coral growth. In my experience coral mucus resists absorption of
> untreated crude oil even when totally submerged in oil. That is what
> happened when I totally submerged /Acropora cervicornis/ in typical
> Louisiana crude for one hour (the coral grew when placed back in sea
> water). Below the surface slicks the amount of hydrocarbons dissolved in
> sea water from untreated crude is generally low. Experiments performed
> at Texas A and M in the early 1970s showed the maximum level of
> hydrocarbon that could be dissolved in sea water was around 19 ppm. What
> you have demonstrated is clearly many times greater. I conclude that is
> because of the surfactant Corexit.  In the mid 1970s I helped write the
> API oil spill clean up manual. I wrote the coral reef section. The main
> conclusion was that surfactants should not be used on  oil spills in the
> vicinity of coral reefs. I suspect you would agree with that conclusion.
> The paper you have published is excellent! It will be interesting to see
> how far westward this oil can be traced in corals. Is Tubastrea the
> exotic that had drawn so much attention lately? Gene
> --
> No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
> ------------------------------------ -----------------------------------
> E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
> University of South Florida
> College of Marine Science Room 221A
> 140 Seventh Avenue South
> St. Petersburg, FL 33701
> <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
> Tel 727 553-1158
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