The Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology


Gulf of Mexico Offshore Toxicology Study 

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On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded resulting in an uncontrolled release of crude oil into the ocean. By the time the well was capped and the oil flow stopped, the disaster had become the largest environmental oil crisis in U.S. history and the second largest in world history. Superimposed on the massive oil release, was the use of chemical dispersants that were sprayed on top of the oil and injected into the Gulf waters in unprecedented quantities.  The toxicity of these dispersants is unknown, and it is uncertain how mixing them with oil might alter the toxicity of the oil. Early reports suggest the dispersants make the oil much more toxic.

This crisis provides a unique and critical opportunity to understand the impact of ocean pollution on marine life. The data collected and the lessons learned will serve to inform us about the decisions made and the actions taken in the Gulf of Mexico, which will then, in turn, serve to inform us how to move forward in improving conditions in the Gulf of Mexico as well as inform us better on how to protect the Gulf of Maine and other important marine environments from this sort of disaster. By comparing and contrasting conditions in the Gulf of Maine with those in the Gulf of Mexico, we will learn much about both locations.

Thus, in response to these concerns and possibilities, the Wise Laboratory designed and launched its Gulf of Mexico Offshore Toxicology Study to study the impact of this crisis on whales and humans. This study is a blend of research work at sea and in the laboratory and seeks to understand the impact of this crisis on wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico and the people who depend on it.  This multiyear Study consists of four phases:   Phase 1 – Sample Collection, Phase 2 – Impact Assessment, Phase 3 – Education and Outreach, and Phase 4 – Recovery Assessment.  Each Phase is described in more detail by the links below.

 Sample Collection

Phase 1: Sample Collection


 Impact Assessment
Phase 2: Impact Assessment 
 Education and Outreach
Phase 3: Education and Outreach 
 Recovery Assessment
Phase 4: Recovery Assessment
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