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Scientists Awarded $118,000 To Study Impact Of BP Oil Spill On Coastal Residents

Scientists at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi have been awarded $118,000 to investigate the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The team of researchers plan to build a model that will test how the oil spill has changed the Gulf environment.

Five years ago, the worst oil spill in U.S. history hit the Gulf.

Scientists with the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi plan to study how the oil disaster impacted the relationship between the ocean, sea-life and coastal residents.  

Doctor Paul Montagna is behind the new project. He says the Gulf provides many services to coastal residents that are often taken for granted.

“The assumption has always been that the ocean absorbs this pollution, especially the deep parts, and any pollution that does occur is not connected to people in any real way — out of sight, out of mind,” Doctor Montagna said in a press release. “So that’s the real key. Can we show how the Gulf and the people who live here are part of a complex socio-ecological system?”

Doctor Montagna says we’re connected to the Gulf through ecosystem services, or benefits provided to humans by the environment.

“Some of them are real obvious, like the oxygen we breathe. Some of the services are more easily valued, for example fisheries or extracting oil and gas from the bottom of the ocean.” Doctor Montagna said in an interview. “Some of them are less obvious, like cultural benefits. Think of all the people walking on the beach.”

Doctor Montagna says his team will build a model to test how these benefits have changed since the oil spill. His team plans to begin in September.

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