A Foram That Thrives Where Others Can't

Small foram shells in seafloor sediment.
Bryan O’Malley

These tiny shells are the foraminifera Globobulimina affinis, found on the seafloor throughout the Atlantic Ocean. What makes this foram noteworthy is that it can survive where other forams can't: in sediment with very little oxygen. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) scientist Patrick Schwing collected forams from the seafloor to learn about how the oil spill had changed the environment. When he found fewer species of forams than usual, he knew that the community had been affected. And the great abundance of of Globobulimina affinis suggested that the area must have had little oxygen after the spill. Read more about his story of forams and the oil spill on the Ocean Portal blog.