Horn Point Scientists to Study Oil Spill Effects in Gulf - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Reported by Kye Parsons

Horn Point Laboratory Scientists to Study Oil Spill Effects in Gulf

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CAMBRIDGE, Md.- A team of scientists from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Horn Point Laboratory will be traveling to the Gulf of Mexico later this summer to study the potential effects of the oil spill on plankton and fish communities in the northern Gulf.

Supported by a National Science Foundation Rapid Response Research grant, the expedition will be led by Laboratory Director Dr. Michael Roman and includes fellow faculty members Drs. Bill Boicourt and Jamie Pierson.

"Data collected over the last five years by our research team gives us a scientifically robust starting point for assessing how the Gulf ecosystem has changed in the wake of the spill," Roman said. "In previous years, we've been able to assess the effects of low oxygen bottom waters on the living resources in the northern Gulf of Mexico. We hope to shed light on the environmental consequences of the spill by comparing data to those previous research cruises."

The research cruise is scheduled for late August 2010 and will be coordinated with additional scientists from Oregon State University, Eastern Carolina University and the University of Akron, monitoring fish and microbial communities in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Horn Point officials say that given the economic importance of the Gulf of Mexico to commercial fisheries - about 20 percent of the U.S. total landings representing about $991 million - and recreational fishing which supports nearly 25 percent of the nation's recreational saltwater fishing jobs, this research is critical in assessing the possible effects of the oil spill on the northern Gulf ecosystem.

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