September 2016

Special Issue on GoMRI: Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science



VOL.29, NO.3, SEPTEMBER 2016

Special Issue on

GoMRI Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science

Oceanography | September 2016





Foreword to the GoMRI Special Issue

By R.R. Colwell


Introduction to the Special Issue: An Overview of the Gulf of Mexico

Research Initiative

By J. Shepherd, D.S. Benoit, K.M. Halanych, M. Carron, R. Shaw, and C. Wilson


Enabling Data Sharing Through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative

Information and Data Cooperative (GRIIDC)

By J. Gibeaut


An Opportunity to Inform and Educate Through the Gulf of Mexico Research

Initiative: Outreach Efforts Surrounding the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

By D.S. Benoit, L.A. Zimmermann, K.H. Fillingham, S.H. Sempier,

N.M. Dannreuther, J.B. Ritchie, and K.M. Halanych


Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative: Engagement with Public Health,

Risk Perception, and Risk Mitigation

By B. Singer and S.H. Sempier


Chemical Composition of Macondo and Other Crude Oils and Compositional

Alterations During Oil Spills

By E.B. Overton, T.L. Wade, J.R. Radović, B.M. Meyer, M.S. Miles, and S.R. Larter


How Do Oil, Gas, and Water Interact Near a Subsea Blowout?

By S.A. Socolofsky, E.E. Adams, C.B. Paris, and D. Yang


Methods of Oil Detection in Response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

By H.K. White, R.N. Conmy, I.R. MacDonald, and C.M. Reddy


What Happened to All of the Oil?

By U. Passow and R.D. Hetland


Over What Area Did the Oil and Gas Spread During the 2010 Deepwater

Horizon Oil Spill?

By T.M. Özgökmen, E.P. Chassignet, C.N. Dawson, D. Dukhovskoy, G. Jacobs,

J. Ledwell, O. Garcia-Pineda, I.R. MacDonald, S.L. Morey, M.J. Olascoaga,

A.C. Poje, M. Reed, and J. Skancke

108 The Role of Dispersants in Oil Spill Remediation: Fundamental Concepts,

Rationale for Use, Fate, and Transport Issues

By V. John, C. Arnosti, J. Field, E. Kujawinski, and A. McCormick


Marine Snow Sedimented Oil Released During the Deepwater Horizon Spill

By U. Passow and K. Ziervogel


VO L . 2 9, N O. 3, SE P T E M B E R 2 0 1 6



Oceanography | September 2016

Oceanography | Vol.29, No.3




Timbalier Bay


CENTER. Deepwater Horizon oil rig prior to the April 2010 accident. Source: National Commission of the BP Deepwater Horizon

Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT. (1) Photo showing oil (brown blobs) inside a copepod nauplius of Parvocalanus crassirostris. Photo

credit: Rodrigo Almeda (2) Jonathan Delgardio and Will Overholt (Georgia Institute of Technology) collect samples from a Pensacola

Beach sand trench with oil layers. Photo credit: Markus Huettel (3) A chromatogram of oil that leaked from the Macondo well during

the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Each peak represents one of thousands of individual chemical compounds in the oil. Image courtesy

of Bob Nelson, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (4) Splash resulting from impact of a raindrop on a 400 µm oil slick. Image

credit: David W. Murphy, Johns Hopkins University (5) Fishers offload yellowedge grouper from a fishing vessel near Tampa, Florida.

Photo credit: Steve Saul (6) Ocean color satellite imagery and high-resolution circulation models were used to delineate possible

phytoplankton blooms. Fieldwork is needed to confirm these phenomena. Image credit: Ocean Weather Laboratory (7) Researchers

found sea pansies and lined sea stars when trawling offshore of the Chandeleur Islands. This spring 2015 survey is helping to

document mid- and higher-level consumer diversity and abundance across the northern Gulf of Mexico. Photo courtesy of the

Alabama Center for Ecological Resilience (8) Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment

drifter trajectories in the Gulf of Mexico superimposed on Aviso surface currents. Image credit: Edward Ryan and Tamay Özgökmen,

University of Miami (9) Coastal Waters Consortium (CWC) researchers mark study sites in a marsh. Photo credit: CWC Consortium


The Oceanography Society

P.O. Box 1931

Rockville, MD 20849-1931 USA

t: (1) 301-251-7708

f: (1) 301-251-7709


Send changes of address to

or go to,

click on Login, and update your profile.


Please send advertising inquiries to or go to



Please send corrections to

Corrections will be printed in the next issue

of Oceanography.


Production of this issue of Oceanography

was supported by the Gulf of Mexico

Research Initiative.



Nicholls State University


Auburn University


University of Southampton


Louisiana State University


Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative

126 Weathering of Oil Spilled in the Marine Environment

By M.A. Tarr, P. Zito, E.B. Overton, G.M. Olson, P.L. Adhikari, and C.M. Reddy

136 Responses of Microbial Communities to Hydrocarbon Exposures

By S.B. Joye, S. Kleindienst, J.A. Gilbert, K.M. Handley, P. Weisenhorn,

W.A. Overholt, and J.E. Kostka

150 Effects of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill on Coastal Marshes and

Associated Organisms

By N.N. Rabalais and R.E. Turner

160 How Did the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Affect Coastal and Continental Shelf

Ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico?

By S.A. Murawski, J.W. Fleeger, W.F. Patterson III, C. Hu, K. Daly, I. Romero,

and G.A. Toro-Farmer

174 Impact of Oil Spills on Marine Life in the Gulf of Mexico: Effects on Plankton,

Nekton, and Deep-Sea Benthos

By E.J. Buskey, H.K. White, and A.J. Esbaugh

182 How Did the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Impact Deep-Sea Ecosystems?

By C.R. Fisher, P.A. Montagna, and T.T. Sutton

196 Seafood and Beach Safety in the Aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

By R. Dickey and M. Huettel

204 Synthesis and Crosscutting Topics of the GoMRI Special Issue

By J.W. Farrington, K.A. Burns, and M.S. Leinen

Oceanography | Vol.29, No.3



Oceanography | September 2016


Ellen S. Kappel

Geosciences Professional Services Inc.

5610 Gloster Road

Bethesda, MD 20816 USA

t: (1) 301-229-2709

Contributing Writer

Cheryl Lyn Dybas


W W W.TO S .O R G /O C E A N O G R A P H Y

Oceanography (ISSN 1042-8275) is published by The Oceanography Society, PO Box 1931,

Rockville, MD, 20849-1931 USA. ©2016 The Oceanography Society  Inc. All rights

reserved. Permission is granted for individuals to copy articles from this magazine for

personal use in teaching and research, and to use figures, tables, and short quotes from

the magazine for republication in scientific books and journals. There is no charge for

any of these uses, but the material must be cited appropriately.

Republication, systemic reproduction, or collective redistribution of any material in

Oceanography is permitted only with the approval of The Oceanography Society.

Please contact Jennifer Ramarui at

Gregg J. Brunskill

84 Alligator Creek Road

Alligator Creek, Queensland 4816


Margaret L. (Peggy) Delaney

Professor of Ocean Sciences

Ocean Sciences Department

University of California, Santa Cruz

1156 High Street

Santa Cruz, CA 95064 USA

t: (1) 831-459-4736

f: (1) 831-459-4882

Charles H. Greene


Ocean Resources & Ecosystems


Department of Earth & Atmospheric


Cornell University

2130 Snee Hall

Ithaca, NY 14853-2701 USA

t: (1) 607-255-5449

f: (1) 607-254-4780

Kiyoshi Suyehiro

Principal Scientist

Laboratory of Ocean-Earth Life

Evolution Research


Tokyo, Japan

t: (81) 45-778-5800

James Syvitski

Executive Director of CSDMS


University of Colorado-Boulder

1560 30th Street, Campus Box 450

Boulder, CO 80309-0450 USA

t: (1) 303-492-7909

f: (1) 303-492-3287

Peter Wadhams

Department of Applied Mathematics

and Theoretical Physics

University of Cambridge

Centre for Mathematical Sciences

Wilberforce Road

Cambridge CB3 0WA, UK

t: (44) 1223-760372


Johanna Adams

Assistant Editor

Vicky Cullen

PO Box 687

West Falmouth, MA 02574 USA

t: (1) 508-548-1027

f: (1) 508-548-2759

Associate Editors




P.O. Box 1931

Rockville, MD 20849-1931 USA

t: (1) 301-251-7708; f: (1) 301-251-7709

The Oceanography Society was founded in 1988

to disseminate knowledge of oceanography and

its application through research and education, to

promote communication among oceanographers,

and to provide a constituency for consensus-

building across all the disciplines of the field.


Susan Lozier, President

Alan Mix, President-Elect

Mark Abbott, Past-President

Susan Cook, Secretary

Susan Banahan, Treasurer


William Balch

Stefanie Mack

Kristen Buck

Dennis McGillicuddy

Lee Karp-Boss

Richard Murray

John Largier

Julie Pullen


Jennifer Ramarui


Ober | Kaler

Sea-Bird Scientific

Teledyne RD Instruments

Oceanography | September 2016

Oceanography | Vol.29, No.3

Breaking Waves



Breaking Waves provides an outlet for short papers describ-

ing novel approaches to multidisciplinary problems in ocean-

ography. These provocative papers will present findings that are

synthetic by design, and have the potential to move the field of

oceanography forward or in new directions.

Papers should be written in a style that is both concise and

accessible to a broad readership. While these papers should be

thought-provoking for the professional oceanographer, they

should also be written in a manner that is engaging for the edu-

cated nonprofessional. As in other sections of Oceanography,

we encourage the use of color photographs and figures to help

illustrate a paper’s main points and add to its aesthetic appeal.

Consistent with our effort to publish papers on rapidly advanc-

ing topics in oceanography, all submissions to the Breaking Waves

section will be given a special fast-track in the peer-review and

publishing processes. Our goal will be to publish papers no more

than two issues (i.e., six months) after their submission.

The Associate Editor overseeing Breaking Waves manuscripts

is Charles H. Greene (, Department of Earth

and Atmospheric Sciences, Cornell University. Authors should

submit a brief e-mail message to the Associate Editor outlining

their ideas for papers prior to actual manuscript preparation. This

step will ensure that authors receive appropriate feedback prior

to investing their time and energy in preparing manuscripts that

may be unsuitable for publication in this forum. Correspondence

with the Associate Editor and submission of manuscripts must

be done electronically. File formats for text, figures, and photo-

graphs must be consistent with existing style guidelines

for Oceanography (




QUARTERDECK. Silver Linings: Disasters Can Produce Good Science

By E.S. Kappel


FROM THE PRESIDENT. TOS To Pilot a Mentoring Program for Ocean Science

Graduate Students

By M.S. Lozier


COMMENTARY. True Colors of Oceanography: Guidelines for Effective and

Accurate Colormap Selection

By K.M. Thyng, C.A. Greene, R.D. Hetland, H.M. Zimmerle, and S.F. DiMarco


COMMENTARY. North America’s Iconic Marine Species at Risk Due To

Unprecedented Ocean Warming

By C.H. Greene


COMMENTARY. Assessing Student Learning of Oceanography Concepts

By L. Arthurs


RIPPLE MARKS. Coral Reef Discovered in an Unlikely Locale:

The Amazon River’s Freshwater Plume

By C.L. Dybas


Conservation Challenges for the Great Whales in a Post-Whaling World

By P.J. Clapham

226 THE OCEANOGRAPHY CLASSROOM. Why Wet Students Are the Best:

The Ins and Outs of Fieldwork

By S. Boxall

229 CAREER PROFILES. Louise Newman, Executive Officer, Southern

Ocean Observing System • Jonathan M. Lilly, Senior Research Scientist,

NorthWest Research Associates

Oceanography | Vol.29, No.3


Oceanography | September 2016

Silver Linings

Disasters Can Produce Good Science

On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, working

on the Macondo exploration well for BP in the Gulf of Mexico, killed 11 peo-

ple and led to an estimated five million barrels of crude oil spewing into the

water column from approximately 1,500 m depth. Four months later and six

years ago this month, on September 19, 2010, the wellhead was declared per-

manently sealed. The scope and scale of the environmental disaster caused by

the blowout was enormous. And yet, as with great tragedies throughout his-

tory, ranging from fires that destroyed large portions of London and Chicago

to earthquakes that devastated Lisbon and San Francisco, great disasters

often have a silver lining. In this case, work done in reaction to the massive

Deepwater Horizon oil spill led to a substantial amount of good science that

will improve the response to the inevitable next major spill. Numerous field

programs, experiments, and modeling studies conducted in the aftermath of

Deepwater Horizon by scientists from institutions in the United States and

around the world added tremendously to the knowledge base. Hundreds of

peer-reviewed articles have already been published on the Deepwater Horizon

spill, including several special issues in specialized journals.

This special issue of Oceanography, generously supported by the Gulf of

Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI), supplements this literature by provid-

ing an accessible, multidisciplinary overview not only of results from scien-

tific studies but also of the multifaceted outreach and database efforts sup-

ported under the GoMRI program. Twenty articles provide snapshots of how

far oil spill science has come in the six years since the Deepwater Horizon oil

spill. Their topics range from how crude oil weathers and spreads, to the envi-

ronmental impacts of dispersant use, the short- and long-term effects oil spills

have on coastal and marine ecosystems, and impacts on the health and live-

lihoods of the affected communities. Even with this silver lining, as articles

in this special issue remind us, the story is not yet complete. The outcomes of

studies that will be supported by GoMRI’s final request for proposals, to be

issued in October, will contribute further to the important knowledge base on

how oil spills affect Earth’s environment.


Ellen S. Kappel, Editor

December 2016

Ocean-Ice Interaction

March 2017

International Cooperation in

Harmful Algal Bloom Science

June 2017

Autonomous and Lagrangian

Platforms and Sensors

September 2017

Sedimentary Processes Building a

Tropical Delta Yesterday, Today, and

Tomorrow: The Mekong System

December 2017

Celebrating 30 Years of Ocean Science

and Technology at the Monterey Bay

Aquarium Research Institute

In addition to the special issues articles,

Oceanography solicits and publishes:

• Peer-reviewed articles that chronicle

all aspects of ocean science and its


• News and information, meeting reports,

hands-on laboratory exercises, career

profiles, and book reviews

• Editor-reviewed articles that address

public policy and education and how

they are affected by science and


• Breaking Waves articles that describe

novel approaches to multidisciplinary

problems in ocean science

Special Issues




Oceanography | Vol.29, No.3

Call for Nominations for 2016

The Oceanography Society (TOS) Fellows Program was established to recognize indi-

viduals who have attained eminence in oceanography through their outstanding con-

tributions to the field of oceanography or its applications over a substantial number

of years. TOS members are encouraged to participate in honoring such individuals by

nominating or seconding their election as a TOS Fellow. TOS members from all areas

of oceanography will be considered for the Fellows Program. A recommendation for

advancement to TOS Fellow is appropriate after an individual has been a TOS member

for at least three years, depending on his or her contributions to the field.

The main criteria for being elected a TOS Fellow are outstanding and sustained con-

tributions, and devotion to the broad field of oceanography, commensurate with the

founding principles of the Society.

To be considered this year, the Nominator, who must be a TOS member, should submit a

nomination package by October 31, 2016. Important details and instructions regard-

ing the nomination process are provided at This infor-

mation is also available upon request from the TOS Executive Director (

The Oceanography Society Fellows Program

The Oceanography Society | P.O. Box 1931, Rockville, MD 20849-1931, USA | Telephone: 301/251-7708 | Fax: 301/251-7709 | E-mail:

Recognizing Individuals Who Have Attained Eminence in Oceanography

Through Their Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Oceanography or Its Applications

Oceanography | September 2016

After taking a break for the beach and a fair share of summer

reads, it is time to get ready for another semester. My immedi-

ate focus is on preparation for my fall undergraduate course, but

graduate education is never far from my mind these days. It has

been a focus of TOS Council meetings for the past year, and I

have been involved for some time in efforts to reimagine gradu-

ate education in the sciences here at Duke. In previous columns,

I discussed the motivation for this reimagining, namely, the cur-

rent job market for PhDs in science. Nationwide, only about

10% of PhD students in science, technology, engineering, and

mathematics (STEM) fields go on to academic careers, a sober-

ing statistic given that most graduate student training empha-

sizes such careers. In this column, I turn to thoughts on how

changes in graduate education might be approached.

A main challenge to reconfiguration of graduate education

is its financial model. Financial support for graduate students

is inextricably linked to faculty research programs and, in most

major research universities, to undergraduate education, the lat-

ter via teaching assistantships. Thus, a comprehensive revision

of graduate education cannot be seriously approached with-

out understanding the constraints placed by these ties. If every

student who entered graduate school paid his or her own way

(undesirable and unlikely) or received a fellowship (desirable,

yet unlikely), a vision for graduate education would focus solely

on providing graduate students with the knowledge and skills

required for the pursuit of career options that included, but were

not limited to, academia. Instead, the current funding model

for graduate education constrains the degree to which students

can pursue independent projects; work in collaborative teams;

and acquire communication, entrepreneurial, and leadership

skills—all desirable experiences for graduates looking for work

in a wide array of professional careers.

And so, as I have written before, the ocean science commu-

nity, in conjunction with the federal agencies that support ocean

research, should consider a “sea change” in how graduate educa-

tion is funded. Possible changes include shifting resources from

research assistantships toward fellowships; funding master’s

education; and “rightsizing” the balance among graduate stu-

dent, postdoctoral, and early career support. These are not easy

changes, but then, it is not easy to see graduate students with

dampened expectations of academic careers.

Funding changes alone will not make the fix. Universities must

also evaluate graduate education in the sciences in light of these

statistics. Even without structural changes in graduate student

funding, universities can expand career opportunities for their

graduates by (1) developing joint-degree programs, (2) provid-

ing courses and/or workshops that focus on the knowledge and

skills needed for nonacademic employment, (3) permitting col-

laborative research projects, and (4) requiring rigorous training

in oral and written communication, with an emphasis on pub-

lic scholarship. Admittedly, these changes require a cultural shift

in graduate education, yet the shift in job statistics lays bare our

responsibility to make these changes.

All of this brings me back to TOS. It’s easy to call out the

funding agencies and universities as the change makers. But,

aside from prodding universities and funding agencies to act,

what role can our society play in effecting change? Following

the TOS Town Hall on graduate education at the 2016 Ocean

Sciences meeting in New Orleans, the TOS Council discussed

just this question. And our answer is two-pronged. First, the

Council would like to expand TOS’s membership to include

a larger number of nonacademic oceanographers. Instead of

mainly being an academic oceanographic society, we would like

to be an academic and professional oceanographic society that

includes much broader membership from industry, nonprofits,

and government agencies. This expansion would make possi-

ble the second prong of our response to the changing job mar-

ket, formation of a mentoring program where current graduate

students are mentored by senior oceanographers with a variety

of careers, inside and outside of academia. In essence, we think

The Oceanography Society can and should create networks

that would expand and facilitate graduate student career path-

ways. We cannot do much about funding models or curricular

changes, but, as a society, we can connect people.

And we have model for this effort. Since 2008, MPOWIR

(Mentoring Women in Physical Oceanography to Improve






mentoring program funded by the US National Science

Foundation, Office of Naval Research, National Aeronautics and

Space Administration, and Department of Energy has focused

on improving the retention of women in physical oceanography

through mentoring. The MPOWIR program has several

TOS To Pilot a Mentoring Program

for Ocean Science Graduate Students


Oceanography | Vol.29, No.3

elements, but one of the most successful has been MPOWIR

mentoring groups, which are composed of five to seven stu-

dents, postdocs, or early career scientists and two senior ocean-

ographers as lead members. The groups meet monthly for about

an hour via teleconference for the purpose of providing confi-

dential mentoring, including peer mentoring, for the junior

group members. Each group has an expected lifetime of approx-

imately two years. Survey results from group participants reveal

high satisfaction with this mentoring element, and early indica-

tions are that MPOWIR is moving the needle on retention.

The TOS Council plans to explore whether the MPOWIR

model can serve our goal of exposing current graduate stu-

dents, men and women alike, to different career paths. The idea

is to form mentoring groups of students across the country and

pair them with two senior oceanographers, each with a differ-

ent career. While we think that students in these groups will

learn more about oceanography careers, we expect the biggest

advantage to be that a student will learn how his or her own skills

and interests are suited to a particular career. As with MPOWIR,

it is easy to see how a senior oceanographer obtained his or her

job, but it is more difficult to see how to get there yourself. This

is where mentoring comes in.

So, we want to give it a try. We will advertise the start of two

pilot mentoring groups this fall and launch the groups in January

of 2017. It’s a small start, but nonetheless a step in the right direc-

tion. Basically, it is an opportunity for this society of professional

oceanographers (of all stripes) to take responsibility for the next

generation of oceanographers. Or, more colloquially, it gives us

a chance to show them the ropes.

M. Susan Lozier, TOS President

Call for Contributions to the New Web Portal


The Oceanography Society has created a new Web page to serve as a resource for ocean sciences graduate

students. This portal contains information on fellowships, scholarships, summer positions, volunteer

opportunities, links to useful articles, and ship time/fieldwork opportunities.

Do you have suggestions or contributions for this page?

Please contact us at

Oceanography | Vol.29, No.3

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236