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Sanctuary Impacts

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.

A buoy line attached to equipment on the sea floor, floats vertically with several pieces of equipment attached.  Divers hover nearby while working on the equipment.  Labels and arrows identify two different types of equipment attached to the line.
Three SPMDs are attached directly to a buoyed line while five more are placed inside a perforated canister (photo inset). Click on the image to see a larger version. Photo: Schmahl/FGBNMS

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.

A diver using a plastic container to collect sediment from the sea floor.
Emma Hickerson collects a sediment sample at East
Flower Garden Bank.
Photo: Schmahl/FGBNMS

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

NOAA Gulf Oil Spill Resources

noaa logoAs the nation's leading scientific resource for oil spills, NOAA was on the scene of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill from the very beginning.

Much of the information collected throughout the response process is now available through a comprehensive education resource page.

You'll find videos, images, lesson plans, maps, data, background information, and interviews with oil spill responders.

In addition a special report summarizing the science used throughout the Deepwater Horizon response was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) in December 2012.

Science in Support of the Deepwater Horizon Response, by Jane Lubchenco, Marcia K. McNutt, Gabrielle Dreyfus, Steven A. Murawski, David M. Kennedy, Paul T. Anastas, Steven Chu and Tom Hunter.

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Additional Oil Spill Education Materials

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For those of you interested in discussing the oil spill with students, please be sure to check out the National Ocean Service Education lesson developed following the Exxon Valdez spill.

Prince William's Oily Mess: A Tale of Recovery

This lesson focuses on the aftermath of an oil spill, its effects on the people and ecosystems, lessons learned, and what recovery means. It also includes links to an Oil Spill Trajectory Model, an Oil Spill Primer for Students, and How Toxic is Oil?Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant logo

The four Sea Grant programs in the Gulf of Mexico have joined forces to provide a web resource on Oil Spill Science.

Logo or The BridgeA search of The Bridge, a NOAA Sea Grant-supported collection of the best marine education resources available on-line, will provide several oil spill lesson plans and activities.

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weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Pale yellow sea slug with bright orange and blue ruffle down its back and bright orange spots on the end of its antennae.  Sea slug looks like a snail without its shell and is only a couple inches long.
National Marine Sanctuary logo - a stylized whale tail above waves