Current Projects: Deepwater Horizon Natural Resources Damage Assessment

Title: Second Addendum to Assessment Plan for Sargassum Communities and Associated Fauna in the Northern Gulf of Mexico: Sargassum Sample Processing Plan for Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle (ROV) Data, Bongo Net Samples and Neuston Net Samples

Title: Addendum to: NRDA Plankton Processing Plan—Analysis of Zooplankton Samples

Funding Agency/Contractor: NOAA/IEc

Duration: October 2012 - September 2014

Background: The Oil Pollution Act authorizes certain federal agencies, states and Indian tribes, collectively known as the Natural Resource Trustees (trustees) to evaluate the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on natural resources. The trustees are responsible for studying the effects of the spill through a process known as Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). As part of this process, scientists from each trustee entity work together to identify potential injuries to natural resources resulting from the spill and to design studies that will be used to determine and measure spill-related injuries (or impacts) to natural resources and their human uses. For the Deepwater Horizon spill, NRDA activities to date have been divided into categories that focus on specific organisms, habitats, or uses. This synopsis, as well as other related information, can be found on the NRDA Workplans and Data website. We are currently involved with two NRDA projects. Details for each are provided below.

Objectives: The objectives outlined in the Sargassum Sample Processing Plan are:

  1. Process neuston net samples for type, abundance and size frequency of fishes and postlarval/juvenile decapods, and bongo net samples for type, abundance and size frequency of ichthyoplankton.
  2. Create larval/juvenile fish and postlarval/juvenile decapod reference collections based on
    neuston and bongo net samples.
  3. Identify encrusting invertebrates (e.g., hydroids, bryozoans, tunicates) on Sargassum blades, stems, and vesicles collected via neuston nets.

Objectives: The objectives outlined in the Water Column Processing Plan are: