CIOERT ROV Team in Gulf
Read about the daily progress the group is making here.
Models of the path that the Deep Horizon oil spill is likely taking in the coming months make movement towards the Florida coast probable. The edge of the West Florida Shelf off the east coast of Florida from the Keys to the Alabama border consists of a mosaic of carbonate reefs, many covered with lush growth of corals, algae and many species common on deep coral reefs throughout the Caribbean region. Unlike cold, deep oil and gas seeps, which are populated by animals adapted to life with oil, these reef ecosystems will likely suffer from spill oil and contaminants.
UNCW will partner with Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution of Florida Atlantic University and other academic and government partners to collect baseline data on these deep reefs before the spill arrives. The key technology is HBOI’s Johnson-Sea-Link research submersible, a two person vehicle with the best suite of scientific samplers and sensors in the region.
UNCW’s Phantom 300 will serve two purposes: water column video to record plankton, midwater fishes and signs of oil; and as a scout for heavy oil before putting the JSL sub in the water. UNCW scientists will also engage in mission planning, data management, analysis of video transects, and collection of corals and other species for several studies, for example, mining for new natural products, signs of physiological stress, and discovery of new species.