Dispatches E-News: No Consensus, 8 Years & Humpbacks v. Orcas (11/14/18)

Dispersants: The Debate Continues

Immediately after the Deepwater Horizon blowout, chemical dispersants were sprayed onto surface oil slicks and directly into the wellhead. The goal was to break up as much oil as possible. At the time, little was known about the behavior of oil in the deep sea, and that decision seemed logical.

Ultimately, those dispersants may have done more harm than good. The scientific community has not yet reached a consensus because, for some organisms, the combination of dispersants and oil is very toxic. For other organisms, the dispersant itself is more toxic than the oil. And, for yet another group, oil itself is the most serious threat. The question must be resolved, so that when the next spill happens, responders can make an educated decision.


GulfCast: What We Know Almost Eight Years After The Oil Spill

Since 2010, hundreds of scientists have been researching the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Some are optimistic; some less so. But all agree that it is critical to continue to study and monitor the Gulf to understand the full impact in the decades to come.


With Humans Out of the Way, Humpbacks Are Flourishing—But So Are Orcas

Researchers are just now beginning to understand what happens when one whale species attacks another.

A whale’s tail is like a fingerprint: its markings are unique to each individual. Among distinct patterns of black and white pigmentation are scars that detail their stories of survival. Scars left by the teeth of orcas, sharks and other marine predators scraping across the skin are known as rake marks. On other sea creatures, these marks disappear with time, but humpbacks earn these scarred stripes when they’re young and vulnerable and they wear them for life. New research shows that these attacks may be increasing in the eastern South Pacific and Antarctic Peninsula.

Photo courtesy of Hector Guzman.


Dispatches from the Gulf 1: Science • Community • Recovery
In the years after Deepwater Horizon – the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history – a global team of scientists is working together to understand its environmental impact on humans, wildlife, and the ecosystem with the ultimate goal of learning how to better cope with future oil spills.
Click here to watch the trailer.

Dispatches from the Gulf 2: Research • Innovation • Discovery
Experience remarkable stories from the unprecedented scientific mission to study the continuing impacts of Deepwater Horizon find new ways to ease the devastation. Includes the never-before-documented drama of bottlenose dolphins struggling to survive, and the capture of one of the world’s largest predatory sharks.
Click here to watch the trailer.

Stream Dispatches 1+2 and Short Videos
Digital versions of Dispatches 1+2 are available free of charge to educators, librarians, homeschoolers, and community activists.

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Dispatches short videos featuring human interest stories and exploring cutting-edge scientific case studies about the Gulf of Mexico are available on YouTube.

Listen to the Podcast
GulfCastthe Dispatches From The Gulf podcast — is available on the following platforms:

Host a Screening
Host a Dispatches screening at schools, libraries, universities, science centers, museums, community centers, or environmental organizations — especially around the anniversary of Deepwater Horizon (April 2018). Guest speakers and panelists can be arranged.
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Educational Materials
Supporting Dispatches educational materials including leaders’ guides, lesson plans, transcripts, posters, and student resources are available for download.
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Mensajes del Golfo de México
A Spanish subtitled version of Dispatches 1 is available via streaming.
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Access the Archive
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Dispatches is made possible by a generous grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI).
Additional funding provided by the Wallace Genetic Foundation and the Farvue Foundation.

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