Contact: Barbara Kennedy
Caption: Compelling evidence of the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on deep-sea corals will be published online in the Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week beginning March 26, 2012. The researchers, led by Penn State University Biologist Charles Fisher, used a wide range of underwater vehicles, including the research submarine Alvin, as well as comprehensive chemical-analysis techniques to determine precisely the source of the petroleum hydrocarbons they found on the corals. A portion of one of the impacted corals and two attached brittle starfish. Living tissue is orange and most of the skeleton is bare or covered by brown flocculent material. The brittle starfish are normal symbiotic partners of this type of coral. The brittle star on the left shows a more normal coloration for this species and the individual on the right is bleached white and much more tightly wrapped around the branch than normal. Both starfish were uncharacteristically immobile.
Credit: Lophelia II 2010; NOAA OER and BOEMRE
Usage Restrictions: The photo credit must be published along with the image.
Related news release: New research reveals deep-ocean impact of the Deepwater Horizon explosion