A research project deep in the Gulf of Mexico, led by Penn State University Professor of Biology Charles Fisher, the project's lead scientist, and James Brooks of TDI Brooks International, the project's manager, has been honored with the Excellence in Partnership award by the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, an organization established by the US Congress. The results of the research include new discoveries of coral communities in the deep Gulf of Mexico, new findings on the ecology and population genetics of the deep-water corals and communities, marine archaeological discoveries, and new data on growth rates of corals on oil platforms and shipwrecks. A primary purpose of the work is to gather data that will inform environmental review and decision making for the protection of deep-water corals and other hard-bottom communities in the northern Gulf of Mexico. As part of the project, a site 11 km away from the Deepwater Horizon disaster was discovered that had been impacted by oil released during the disaster. One of the impacted corals with attached brittle starfish. Although the orange tips on some branches of the coral is the color of living tissue, it is unlikely that any living tissue remains on this animal.
Credit: Lophelia II 2010, NOAA OER, and BOEMRE, copyright WHOI
The image credit must be published along with the image. Permission is granted for use of this photo by news organizations for use only in conjunction with stories associated with the research described in the 30 August 2012 press release archived at http://science.psu.edu/news-and-events/2012-news/Fisher8-2012 and the March 2012 press release, titled New Research Reveals Deep-Ocean Impact of the Deepwater Horizon Explosion, posted online at science.psu.edu/news-and-events/2012-news/Fisher3-2012.