At the very bottom of the Gulf of Mexico live deep-sea corals—soft, alien versions of their more familiar shallow water cousins. For eons, deep-sea corals thrived in the depths, providing shelter for smaller denizens like brittlestars, sponges, and crabs. Until one day, dirty snow from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill descended upon them.
Every month our Emergency Response Division provides scientific expertise and services to the U.S. Coast Guard on everything from running oil spill trajectories to model where the spill may spread, to possible effects on wildlife and fisheries and estimates on how long the oil may stay in the environment.
This month OR&R responded to seven incidents in September, including oil discharges, grounded vessels, and other pollution-related incidents.
By Doug Helton, Office of Response and Restoration
Prevention efforts have reduced recent ship sinkings, but what about the thousands of historical shipwrecks in U.S. waters? Many of these sit out of sight, damaged, collapsed onto the seabed—some threatening to leak their oil cargo or fuel. Is there a way to prevent spills from ships that have already sunk? Improvements in underwater technologies now allow salvage companies to safely conduct oil removal operations from sunken ships, but where to start?