Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gulf Oil Spill: Recovery measurable by foraminifera

The University of California has issued a press release, that "
Tiny foraminifera shells can help assess recovery after oil spill
. Millimeter-size marine organisms called foraminifera have been used to monitor pollutants in marshes and oceans, and could help to assess recovery in the Gulf of Mexico following the three-month long Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

That was the message from a French/American team of researchers who recently reported on the health of French marshes and mudflats 32 years after the Amoco Cadiz spilled 220,000 tons of oil along the Brittany coast in 1978."

"Our key to looking at these environments was the percentage of deformed foraminifera," said report co-author Jere Lipps, University of California, Berkeley, professor of integrative biology and an expert on foraminifera. "The percentage went way up during the oil spill, and then after about two years came back down to 2 or 3 percent, and that is where we see it today."

Read the whole story at UC Berkeley News

Deformed Elphidium from Kiel Fjord, Germany:

Foto courtesy of Irina from Irina Polovodova et. al., 2008: Foraminiferal test abnormalities in the western Baltic Sea in Journal of Foraminiferal Research, v. 38 (4), p. 318-336.
click here to see more images and read more

As pointed out in an earlier post, a great number of foraminifera are affected by the Gulf oil disaster. The comparison of the affected faunas now with those of the past and those in the future may provide a deep understanding of the impact and recovery processes.

Find more information on men-made pollution measured by foraminifera in the Mini-lecture: Foraminifera record pollution

Michael of foraminifera.eu