Thursday, June 9, 2011
Expedition to Study Gulf of Mexico EcoSystem
BATON ROUGE, LA - Ocean Alliance, the University of Southern Maine and Albemarle Corporation launched a 14-week scientific voyage on June 8, 2011 to study the impacts of recent oil spills and natural disasters on the Gulf of Mexico, one of the world's most important ocean habitats.
The scientific mission left Key West, Florida with a ten-person team aboard the 93-foot floating laboratory, Odyssey. The team will collect samples from fish, squid, krill, sperm and Brydes whales, and the water from depths of up to 3,000 feet to try to monitor and gauge the health of the Gulf ecosystem. The expedition, set to leave on World Oceans Day, is supported by a number of foundations and individuals as well as by primary sponsor Albemarle.
"The oceans are downhill from everything, so ultimately, everything washes down into our oceans," said Iain Kerr, D.H.L CEO, Ocean Alliance. "Nowhere else in America can we better see the impact of recent events than in the Gulf of Mexico, which receives all the runoff from the Mississippi river as it meanders through the heart of America. Recent flooding and the oil spill in 2010 have put the Gulf species under enormous habitat pressure recently, and our expedition will strive to find ways to appropriately address the long-term effects on the Gulf ecosystem."
The expedition will follow the 3,000 ft depth contour line into the Gulf of Mexico, spending considerable time working within 5 to 100 miles of the Deepwater Horizon site. Each expedition leg will last around 2 weeks, with students and scientists joining the Odyssey for different legs.
"Albemarle is dedicated to using scientific research to find safe, sustainable solutions to environmental challenges," said Mark Rohr, Albemarle Chairman and CEO. "We are proud to support the voyage of the Odyssey as its team seeks to better understand the impacts of society on our important ecosystems."
The data collected on the expedition will be taken to the University of Southern Maine and analyzed by researchers at the Wise Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology. The report of the impacts is expected to assist scientists in better understanding how and what can be done to lesson or reduce the impacts these recent events have had on this ecosystem that is the home of so many important species of whales.
Daily blog updates on the voyage will be posted at www.oceanalliance.org, http://www.usm.maine.edu/toxicology/gulf/index.php and via links on www.albemarle.com.