Pollution

Humans take a huge toll on the environment in a variety of forms. Small plastic pieces make their way to the ocean where they are consumed by fish. Oils spills occur and nutrient runoff can have a huge impact on coastal ecosystems.

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Oil Drilling Platform in the Gulf of Mexico

DIVE DEEPER

Gulf Oil Spill

The Gulf oil spill is recognized as the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Within days of the April 20, 2010 explosion and...

Five Questions for Richard Carson, Natural Resource Economist

In 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the water and onto the beaches of the remote ecosystem. Richard Carson...
Photograph of an oiled brown pelican squatting on the beach.

Breaking Down the Myths and Misconceptions About the Gulf Oil Spill

Mark Dodd, wildlife biologist from Georgia's Department of Natural Resources, surveying oiled sargassum in the Gulf of Mexico in June 2010. Credit: NOAA by Hannah Waters In the months and years following the 2010...

Recycled Fishing Gear Converted into Energy

Instead of adding castaway fishing nets to already crowded landfills, Hawaii’s multi-partner marine debris group has developed a method of converting marine debris into usable electricity. The Nets-to-Energy Program is reducing the effects of...
Small foram shells in seafloor sediment.

Little Critters that tell a BIG Story: Benthic Foraminifera and the Gulf Oil Spill

You are not alone if you don’t know what forams (short for foraminifera) are, so let’s start with the basics. Simply put, forams are single-celled organisms related to the familiar amoeba that produce a...

From Despair to Repair

Sit down with two veteran marine scientists, Dr. Nancy Knowlton and Dr. Jeremy Jackson, who fell in love with each other and the reefs of the Caribbean 40 years ago. Those reefs are now...
This queen parrotfish scrapes algae from Caribbean reefs with its parrot-like beak.

From Despair to Repair: Protecting Parrotfish Can Help Bring Back Caribbean Coral Reefs

Sit down with two veteran marine scientists, Dr. Nancy Knowlton and Dr. Jeremy Jackson, who fell in love with each other and the reefs of the Caribbean 40 years ago. Those reefs are now...
Plastic bottles and other marine debris cover a rocky beach in Curacao.

Fighting Plastic From Every Angle

A still from a video documenting a remote beach in Curaçao that's been blanketed in plastic garbage. Credit: Cristina Castillo / Smithsonian Institution Ocean plastic comes in all shapes and sizes, from the flip-flops...
The coastline of American Samoa National Marine Sanctuary

The Reefs of American Samoa: A Story of Hope

American Samoa National Marine Sanctuary comprises a fringing coral reef ecosystem nestled within an eroded volcanic crater on the island of Tutuila, American Samoa. Credit: Wendy Cover Sometimes called the rainforests of the sea,...

Beyond the Sea: How Oil Spills in the Ocean Affect Birds On Land

With their brown and yellow markings, seaside sparrows ( Ammodramus maritimus ) blend in well with marshgrass. Credit: Philip Stouffer, Louisiana State University In marshlands along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, it's...

Oil Invades Coral Communities of the Deep

On the deep seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico, ecosystems made up of fish, corals, sea stars, anemones and other invertebrates flourish. Since the sun’s rays don’t reach the deep sea, coral communities rely...

How Methane Fueled a Food Web after the Gulf Oil Spill

The Johnson-Sea-Link submersible launches to study cold-water corals off Florida in 2009. Credit: ©2011arthowardphototography.com by Hannah Waters In August 1994, Mandy Joye dove to the deep sea in a submersible for the first time...

Building a Better Dispersant

A C-130 Hercules from the Air Force Reserve Command deploys dispersant into the Gulf of Mexico May 5, 2010, as part of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill response effort. Credit: U.S. Air Force, Tech...
A raindrop falls into a surface oil slick treated with chemical dispersant.

After the Oil Spill: Research Projects in the Gulf of Mexico with GoMRI

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) was formed as a 10-year independent research program with money provided by BP to fund an independent research program looking at the impact of oil spills on...
Alexis Temkin

Five Questions With Alexis Temkin, Searching For Links Between Deepwater Horizon & Human Health

Credit: Courtesy Alexis Temkin We all know to avoid touching or eating oil (the fossil fuel variety that is). But after a coastal oil spill, avoiding oil can be difficult if you live near...

Five Questions with Uta Passow, How An Oil Spill Affects the Movement of Carbon In the Ocean

There are millions of tiny drifting plants in the sunlit ocean, called phytoplankton. They produce oxygen that humans end up breathing in and provide food for animals in the plankton (the zooplankton). After death,...
Nancy Rabalais

Five Questions with Nancy Rabalais, Tracking Dead Zones In the Gulf

The Gulf of Mexico is known for one of the world's largest “dead zones"—areas of low- or no-oxygen water along the seafloor that suffocate most animal life. The average size of the Gulf's dead...

Let's Get Our Hands Dirty This Women's History Month

A view of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as seen from a NOAA research aircraft, June 2010. Credit: David Valentine, University of California Santa Barbara In the ocean world, there are many women to...
Oil on the water’s surface in the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

#GulfSpillFlashback: Giving the Gulf Oil Spill the Consideration It Deserves

Oil on the water’s surface in the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Credit: Flickr User James Davidson (Creative Commons) On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in...

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