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ECOGIG: Oil spill effects on deep-sea corals through the lenses of natural hydrocarbon seeps and long time series

March 1, 2016

The 2015 Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf (ECOGIG) expedition was a continuation of a three-year partnership between our Gulf of Mexico Research Institute-funded research consortium and the Ocean Exploration Trust to study the effects of oil and dispersant on corals and closely related communities affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill (White et al., 2012, 2014; Hsing et al., 2013; Fisher et al., 2014a,b; Figure 1A– C). As part of our analysis, we explored a new site to the west of the Macondo well in lease block Mississippi Canyon (MC) 462 where we examined 50 new corals for impact from the spill (Figure 1D). A total of over 250 corals were re-imaged in 2015 for this ongoing time-series study. Another goal was to initiate a study to determine how proximity to natural seeps affects corals and infauna in these communities.