Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Widely Affected Sea Turtles

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Widely Affected Sea Turtles

Article excerpt

Researchers investigating the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on sea turtles found that over 320,000 juvenile sea turtles from populations throughout the Atlantic Ocean were likely present in the northern Gulf of Mexico during the 87-day oil spill in 2010. The study, led by researchers at the University of Miami (UM), has important implications for international management and restoration efforts following oil spills.

"There is a perception that the spill's impacts were largely contained to the northern Gulf of Mexico, because that is where the oil remained," said the study's lead author, Nathan Putman. "However, this overlooks the movement of migratory and dispersive marine animals into the area from distant locations."

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Researchers used a computer model to backtrack virtual particles from the Gulf of Mexico spill site to determine the probability of young sea turtles arriving to this area from across the Atlantic. The abundance of turtles in the vicinity of the oil spill was derived by forward-tracking particles from 35 major nesting beaches using knowledge of their population sizes, oceanic-stage durations, and survival rates. …

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