One Year Anniversary Of BP Oil Spill Approaches

A Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham (L) digs up oiled sand on a beach on April 19, 2011 at South Pass in southern Louisiana. A year after the BP oil spill coated Gulf coast beaches and marshes, BP claims that most of the oil has been removed. Barham says, however, that much of the coastal cleaning has been superficial, as the oil has seeped into the soil, killing marshes and further eroding the state’s damaged Mississippi Delta ecosystem.

An exciting new research initiative has amassed over 18 terabytes of data from more than 200 scientific studies covering Gulf of Mexico ecosystems. The program called the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information & Data Cooperative (GRIIDC) allows scientific researchers to share information and data through an easily accessible web-based platform.

“We have research on burrowing clams with hydrocarbon traces; jellyfish with a high tolerance for crude oil toxins; zooplankton that react to oil dispersants; gulf killifish with altered reproduction habits from environmental stressors. And that’s just the beginning,” said Dr. Jim Gibeaut, Endowed Chair for Geospatial Sciences at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and the director of the data cooperative.

The initiative facilitates scientific study by allowing researchers to quickly find existing studies into various aspects of life in the Gulf, as opposed to searching around multiple university databases for information that in some cases may not be electronically accessible. It’s a one-stop shop for scientists, but the public is also free to access the data.


“The first thing a scientist wants to do when a disaster like the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon spill hits is find out what we already know about the area of impact,” Gibeaut said in a statement. “Well, that means seeking out studies and data housed at different institutions, or, in some cases, not available online at all. This database is greatly improving that data discovery process.”

BP ponied up $500 million in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster to create a 10-year independent research program called the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative which is focused on understanding, responding to, and mitigating impacts of petroleum pollution on the environment and public health. GRIIDC is part of that larger initiative.