Biologists from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of South Alabama reported that the vast majority of coastal marsh species in Alabama have returned to their previous numbers and state of health three years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the March 13, 2013, open access peer reviewed journal Public Library of Science.
The researchers based their assessment on a regular investigation of the populations and health of 41,510 individual organisms representing more than 42 taxa that are resident species (plankton, shrimp, and fish) or transient marsh species within a fringing salt-marsh on the northeast shore of Point-aux-Pins, Alabama.
Abundance of species differed little in 2011 versus pre spill levels in 2009 despite an immediate post spill decline. The variety of transient and resident species was found to be equal to 2009 levels.
“Our negative findings are consistent with other assessments of nekton in coastal vegetated habitats and bolster the notion that, despite the presence of localized hydrocarbon enrichments in coastal habitats outside of Louisiana the most severe oil impacts were relegated to coastal Louisiana and the deep sea.”
“Depsite widespread contamination of offshore waters and, to a lesser extent, coastal waters, results provide little evidence for large-scale acute or persistent oil-induced impacts on organisms that complete their life cycle within the estuary and those that spent portions of their life history in offshore surface waters prior to their recruitment to nearshore habitats.”
Funding: This work was supported by funding provided by NOAA Fisheries Emergency Disaster Relief Program (EDRP) Funds, administered through the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; BP grants made to the Marine Environmental Science Consortium and the Northern Gulf Institute; and in part by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative through the Florida Institute of Oceanography to the Florida Institute of Technology. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analyses, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript, nor does this alter the authors′ adherence to all the PLOS ONE policies on sharing data and materials.
Citation: Moody RM, Cebrian J, Heck KL Jr (2013) Interannual Recruitment Dynamics for Resident and Transient Marsh Species: Evidence for a Lack of Impact by the Macondo Oil Spill. PLoS ONE 8(3): e58376. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058376