HRI Chair Paul Montagna Featured in Harper's Deepwater Horizon Report
Dr. Paul Montagna’s research examining the Deepwater Horizon blowout’s impacts to deepwater soft sediment ecosystems is featured in a report in the June issue of Harper’s Magazine, “Thirty Million Gallons Under the Sea: Following the Trail of BP’s Oil in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Montagna, HRI’s Endowed Chair for Ecosystems and Modeling, is studying the spill’s effect on hidden communities of organisms in the Gulf of Mexico's deepwater muddy bottom habitats. Rarely seen, these important species form the base of the Gulf food chain. Sampling conducted in 2010 and 2011 by Montagna’s team in the vicinity of damaged wellhead found a severe reduction in abundance and biodiversity, and mapped a larger-than-expected impact area around the site. Because the deep-sea is cold, it could take decades to recover from the spill’s impacts.
The report, by journalist Antonia Juhasz, explores the impact to the sea floor four years later, as Juhasz boards the federal government’s only manned research submarine, Alvin, to join a scientific team that is continuing to explore damage to the deep sea environment surrounding the disaster site.