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FSU Researchers Scramble to Collect Pre-Oil Data

May 18th, 2010 by flanews

About two dozen tar balls from the Florida Keys are being examined tonight to determine if they came from the oil leak in the Gulf. If they are, its proof that 28 days after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig, Florida is finally feeling the effects. As Whitney Ray tells us, theres an increased sense of urgency among researchers to study life along the coast before the oil destroys it.

Nasty clumps of tar are washing up in the Florida Keys but it is too early to tell if its from the leak in the Gulf. Last year alone, Florida had 600 reports of tar balls on beaches. Governor Charlie Crist isnt jumping the gun.

Theres no telling where they may have come from and thats why you let scientist do the research they do and well find out, said Crist.

While the world waits to see where the tar originated, researchers and students at FSU are rushing to study Floridas Gulf Coast before its impacted by the oil.

These students are working from FSUs Marine Lab in St. Teresa, loading up test tubes and SCUBA gear to collect water, sea grass and fish samples, knowing that even if the oil stays off the coast, underneath the surface damage will be done.

Right now is when our larval fish are coming into our sea grass beds and if they are coming in though a big oil patch, not a lot of them are going to make it through, so we could see losses in the state of Florida in our fisheries even though the oil never even make it into shore, said grad student Jimmy Nelson.

The research began as a study on the impact of development and was quickly ramped up when oil began gushing into the gulf.

One of the biggest problems is when all these coastal systems decline; nobody knows what was there before, said Chris Koenig, Ph.D. FSU professor and lead researcher on the project.

Theres not enough time to collect samples of all marine life in the gulf coast, but what is recorded will be important information if oil washes in and damages the ecosystem. The tar balls have been taken out of the keys and flown to New Haven, Connecticut, where they will be tested to determine where they might have come from.

Posted in Environment, Oil Drilling, State News, Wildlife | No Comments »

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