The Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology

Gulf Study Phase 1

Phase 1 – Sample Collection primarily focuses on collecting samples from organisms in the Gulf of Mexico and their environment in the immediate aftermath of the crisis and for an additional two summers after the crisis. Marine mammals are a particular concern because they serve as sentinels for human health and because they are key species for both the ocean ecosystem and coastal economies. There are two resident populations of large whales in the Gulf of Mexico. One is a population of about 1,600 sperm whales with living along the 1000 meter shelf. The other is about 15-20 Bryde's whales that live along the 200 m depth line. Of course, there are also numerous resident dolphins from several different species throughout the Gulf. The impacts of the oil, dispersants and metals in the Gulf are a particular concern for all of these animals. These samples will show us how high of a level pollutants related to the crisis reached in the animals and their environment. This phase is now complete with three years of samples collected. We collected skin biopsies from whales, air and water samples, fish, crab, krill, jellyfish, squid and seaweed samples along with a wide array of photos and videos.