Gulf oil spill to be focus of Skidaway Institute lecture

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill will be a focus of the next program in the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography 2010 Fall Lecture Series, “Crystal Ball: Changes Afoot for Our Oceans and Coast in the 21st Century. ”

The second program in the four-part series will be presented on Monday, September 27, at 7 p.m. at the Jewish Educational Alliance (JEA) on Abercorn Street. The same program will be repeated on Thursday, September 30, also at 7 p.m., in the McGowen Library Auditorium on the Skidaway Institute campus.

Skidaway Institute professor Jay Brandes will discuss the Deepwater Horizon rig blowout and fire in April 2010, which led to the largest oil spill in US history.

“Given that such significant oil spills have taken place roughly once every 20 years, it is imperative that lessons are learned and applied in order to be better prepared for the next accident,” said Brandes. “The spill had several unique characteristics other than size, including the large scale use of dispersants at the well and on the surface, the extreme depth of the well, and the high gas content of the oil source.”

In addition to presenting a history of the spill, Brandes will discuss some of the major questions that still persist about the spill.

In the second lecture of the program, Skidaway Institute researcher Elizabeth Mann will examine the important role of unicellular marine algae known as phytopkankton as the base of the marine food web. Phytoplankton also play a major role in the transfer of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to the ocean. Mann will explore how ongoing environmental changes may affect phytoplankton in ways that are difficult to predict.

The lecture series will continue for two additional weeks, with programs at the JEA on Mondays, October 4 and 11. The programs on the Skidaway campus will continue on Thursdays, October 7 and 14.

All programs will begin at 7 p.m.

Admission to the lectures will be $5 per program for adults. Students and members of the Skidaway Marine Science Foundation and The Learning Center will be admitted free.

For additional information, visit the Skidaway Institute Web site at or call (912) 598-2325

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