Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) scientists from diverse disciplines have responded to the April 27 spill of nearly 15,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil into Buzzards Bay, drawing on decades of experience studying the effects of oil spills on the marine and coastal environment.
An oil slick floats in Buzzards Bay as raindrops tap the waters surface. Photos by C. Linder, WHOI)
Robert Nelson inspects one of the oil samples.
Marine chemists have collected dozens of oil samples spilled into Buzzards Bay by the barge Bouchard 120 to determine the chemical composition of the petroleum spilled and its potential toxicity. Biologists and graduate students are participating in other aspects of the spill response, including assisting medical teams trying to rehabilitate oil-soaked wildlife. Teams will continue sampling and assisting various recovery efforts as part of the Institution¹s long-term interest and involvement in oil pollution research and its impact on society.
Plans are underway for Institution staff who have worked on the inputs, fates and effects of oil in the marine environment through the past 35 years to brief local officials in communities surrounding Buzzards Bay about the current state of knowledge on oil pollution in the marine environment in general, and what marine scientists have learned over the years about oil spills since the 1969 Buzzards Bay oil spill off West Falmouth. That spill, approximately 175,000 gallons of No. 2 fuel oil, is considered a baseline for studies of the long-term fate and effects of petroleum hydrocarbons in marine sediments. WHOI scientists have been studying the West Falmouth site regularly since 1969 and still find residues of the oil in salt marsh sediments.
Shelley Dawicki | WHOI
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