[Coral-List] Active mortality event at Flower Garden Banks

Greg Challenger GChallenger at polarisappliedsciences.com
Fri Jul 29 17:07:32 EDT 2016

A starting point


To date, there have been no visible signs of oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill anywhere in the sanctuary. However, sanctuary staff did participate in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process so that any future impacts could be addressed.

Thankfully, sanctuary resources have been part of long-term monitoring studies for many years, which means that we already have good data about the health of the sanctuary prior to the Deepwater Horizon event. This is being incorporated into the NRDA process. 

>From July 2010 to March 2011 we placed Semi-Permeable Membrane Devices (SPMDs) at all three sanctuary banks, and nearby Sonnier Bank, to check for the presence of hydrocarbon-related substances in the water. Two different types of SPMD were used at each location, which allowed us to compare the effectiveness of each in collecting the types of data we were looking for.

Data collected from this and other monitoring activities, including sediment samples, will be used to determine the type and amount of restoration needed, if any, in these areas.

For more detailed information about the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill NRDA process, please visit the  NOAA Damage Assessment, Remediation, & Restoration Program web site.



Above includes charts of benthic contamination extent.

This study found dispersant in deep water near corals persisted for only 6 months.

I'm going to preliminarily go with "oil and dispersant unlikely".  


Greg E. Challenger, M.S.
President, Marine Scientist
Polaris Applied Sciences, Inc.  
12525 131st Ct NE
Kirkland WA 98034
425-823-4841 office                                       

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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 Adriana Leiva
Sent: Friday, July 29, 2016 11:08 AM
Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] Active mortality event at Flower Garden Banks

Could it be that the dispersants from BP are somehow making their way to the Flower Gardens? 

Adriana Leiva 

Sent from my iPhone

> On Jul 29, 2016, at 1:05 PM, Kosmynin, Vladimir <Vladimir.Kosmynin at dep.state.fl.us> wrote:
> I agree with Les.  Oil is closest than any other possible cause of such multy taxa mortality, and thus it is necessary to collect samples of water at FGB and in different directions off it to trace any signs of oil.  It doesn't exclude other hypotheses, which should be tested too.  NOAA should compile emergency team of scientists for this case.
> It is all really bad; FGB is a unique reef system in the Gulf.
> Vladimir N. Kosmynin
>> On Jul 28, 2016, at 9:45 AM, Kaufman, Leslie S <lesk at bu.edu> wrote:
>> Hey Bill.  
>> Oh, wow- the nightmare. It's like when something bad afoot finally 
>> reaches
> out to an actual family member.
>> OK.
>> Emma and GP- beside what you'd already mentioned, I suggest 
>> preserving
> affected tissues for metagenomic analysis (DNA and mRNA).  We do not have to run them, but as the situation clarifies, sequence and transcriptomic data could be clinchers.  
>> It doesn't sound like temperature, but of course thermal data will be
> important- if there are loggers out might be wise to download them just to make sure the data are secure.
>> Might be worth talking to Esther Peters for instructions on 
>> histological
> preservation, but since this is a cross-taxon mass-kill most of the pathology will likely just indicate (superficially) that the critters are sick and dying, not necessarily how come.
>> I think a brief moratorium during close monitoring are justified as a
> cautionary move.  This won't be fun.  
>> There has not been any oil spotted in the area, right?  Because that 
>> is
> one thing that this sounds like.  Have there ever been seeps observed actually within the reef caps on either E or W?  Grasping at straws here..
>> Les
>> Les Kaufman
>> Professor of Biology
>> Boston University Marine Program
>> Faculty Fellow, Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range 
>> Future and Conservation Fellow Betty and Gordon Moore Center for 
>> Science Conservation International lesk at bu.edu <mailto:lesk at bu.edu>
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