Professor sheds light on tiny animal's battle in the gulf
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
America has seen the image of pelicans drenched in oil. But what is harder to see are the tiny critters in the water that fall at the bottom of the food chain — plankton.
"I think that's a subject that not many people think about," Baylor University biology professor Stephen Trumble said.
The professor said it is difficult to say what will happen to the plankton population at this point, as a lot of that has to do with the nature of the spill.
"It's coming up from the bottom, so that's going to create some different issues," he said.
Trumble said he doesn't know of much research on the type of leak currently happening in the Gulf.
"Even back as far as the 70s has all been tanker spills or run a ground and burst open," he said.
However, he said he does know of one study on a certain species of plankton that can multiply with access to high concentrations of oil.
"There have been actual planktonic blooms associated with an oil spill — now that's not saying it's a good thing," he said.
Given the harmful effects of oil, Trumble suspects there will be some kind of negative impact, but to what scale is the question.
"It could be devastating or it could be minimal," Trumble said.
Trumble said he is collaborating with colleagues from the University of Alaska to pursue new research. He said he is interested in studying the long-term effects it will have on the ecosystem.