Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Gulf of Mexico Resilient but Scarred; Sea Turtle Population at Decade Low

In the wake of the BP oil spill, the Associated Press reports the Gulf of Mexico is resilient, yet scarred.

After BP issued a 40-page report in March pronouncing the Gulf mostly recovered (and noting that less than 2 percent of the water and seafloor sediment samples exceeded federal toxicity levels), AP surveyed 26 marine scientists about two dozen aspects of the fragile ecosystem to see how the waterway has changed before the 2010 spill.

Among other species that have been in decline, the AP reports the endangered Kemp’s Ridley sea turtle’s population has declined to a decade low.

After the spill, Oregon State University professor Selina Saville Heppell said, the number of nests dropped 40 percent in one year in 2010.

“We had never seen a drop that dramatic in one year before,” she told AP. The population climbed in 2011 and 2012 but then fell again in 2013 and 2014.

Heppell said while there is not enough data or research to blame the spill, changing nesting trends could be due to many factors, including natural variability and record cold temperatures.

For more information on the report, click here.

Check out the Texas A&M University Press Gulf of Mexico Origin, Waters, and Biota series, which includes an economic snapshot of the Gulf of Mexico prior to the spill and looks at other facets of the Gulf: biodiversity, geology, and ecosystem-based management. The volumes are part of the Harte Research Institute’s landmark scientific series on the Gulf of Mexico.

Also, for more on the plight of sea turtles and meaningful related global volunteer opportunities, check out A Worldwide Travel Guide to Sea Turtles.

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