More on the situation in Florida?

7 10 2010

Red icon marking Siesta Key: site of testing for hydrocarbon compounds in water and sand.

After my last post, I contacted a couple of our Seanetters on Florida’s Gulf Coast. While neither Phil Sorenson nor Melissa Buhler have seen any unusual mortality on their beaches, Phil did send a link to some testing results from a local citizen’s initiative in Florida. Testing the Gulf Water submitted both water and sand samples from Siesta Key in Sarasota. The samples were tested both for levels of oil and grease, (which were negative for all sand and water samples submitted) as well as Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (TPH). TPH  includes hundreds of compounds that originally came from crude oil. Testing for TPH will also detect mixtures of oil and chemical dispersants like the Corexit used in the Gulf spill.

Sand samples from Siesta Key reportedly contained 173ppm TPH. This is in and of itself quite a high number, although the EPA has reported that the addition of Corexit to a petroleum sample can increase its TPH level ten-fold. EPA testing indicates that this elevation does not equate to a commensurate increase in toxicity, however.

Thus, these results are intriguing, and at the least point to the issue of dispersant-oil mixtures settling into sand and sediment with unknown consequences. What impact this is having on Gulf wildlife, and particularly on the terns and gulls dying along Florida’s coast is no clearer for the addition of these test results, and SEANET will continue to diligently follow the story, with the help of Seanetters on the ground in the Gulf. All Seanetters should feel free to send along interesting links and local news. We are a far-flung, widely distributed group, and your SEANET blogger loves to get information from insiders like you all.

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One response

11 10 2010
Melissa Buhler

Sarah, today’s walk did not evidence any bird fatalities. The gull numbers were robust, and the birds behaved normally. There were fewer terns.

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