USF scientists headed for Cuba 


University of South Florida marine scientists will take their research vessel, the R/V Weatherbird II, to Cuba on May 9 to take measurements of its coastal waters before any oil spill ruins them in order to have a baseline:

One of the major problems with the 2010 BP oil spill, scientists say, is that no one — not the government, not the oil companies, not even universities — had taken baseline measurements of what conditions were like in the Gulf of Mexico before the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

So the University of South Florida’s marine science department has been trying to rectify that by taking readings all around the edges of the gulf over the past year or so. Scientists even journeyed down to Mexico, where they not only took readings but also found signs that oil still remains from the 1979 Ixtoc I spill, a disaster that paralleled the BP spill. And now in their ship, the R/V Weatherbird II, they’re heading for Cuba on May 9, said David Hollander, a USF chemical oceanographer who played a crucial role in the university’s investigations of the BP spill’s effects.

They will be paying particular attention to conditions in the Florida Straits, “because those are the ins and outs of the water coming into the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.

In addition to taking the baseline measurements of the water’s chemical composition, Hollander said, “We’ll be looking at aspects of the contamination levels and fisheries conditions, and comparing those to what we found in Mexico and U.S. waters.” [. . .]

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