UGA researchers to host media, education day during Gulf of Mexico expedition

Samantha Joye

Athens, Ga. – A team of UGA researchers and their colleagues in the ECOGIG—Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf—Research Consortium will host a media and education day Monday, June 8, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Gulfport, Mississippi.

The team will be near the midway point in their three-and-half-week-long research cruise on board the R/V Endeavor, a vessel owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the University of Rhode Island. The R/V Endeavor and the R/V Point Sur, owned by the University of Southern Mississippi, will be in port for the event.

The research cruise is taking the team back to the Gulf of Mexico to continue their research to assess the ecological impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident. Over a period of 84 days, the Macondo well site discharged 210 million gallons of oil and more than 175,000 metric tonnes of methane gas into the Gulf. This cruise will allow the scientists to collect water column and sediment samples at Macondo impacted sites, other anthropogenically impacted sites, natural hydrocarbon seeps and control sites to track Macondo impacts and compare the processes observed in Macondo-influenced areas to natural seeps and control sites.

The ECOGIG consortium is lead by project director Samantha Joye, a professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia and leading scientist in Gulf of Mexico ecosystem research. The chief scientist on this research cruise is Joe Montoya of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

The media and education day, which coincides with World Oceans Day, will take place dockside at the R/V Endeavor in the Port of Gulfport. There will be a press briefing, ship tour, opportunities to interview the scientists and a World Oceans Day activity with children from the local Boys and Girls Clubs, who will tour the ships, learn about marine science and participate in a hands-on activity with model remotely operated vehicles used in deep sea research.

Journalists will be able to:
• Attend the press briefing at 10 a.m.
• Interview ECOGIG scientists, including Drs. Joye, Montoya, Ajit Subramaniam (Columbia University), Jeff Chanton (Florida State University) and Vernon Asper (University of Southern Mississippi) as well as other members of the research team.
• Tour the R/V Endeavor and the R/V Point Sur and take photos and video of research facilities and equipment
• Observe the educational activity celebrating World Oceans Day

Because this is a secure port, journalists must submit their name, date of birth and press affiliation no later than June 6 to Sara Beresford at sarab@uga.edu or 706-542-5863 to obtain clearance to enter the port on media day.

ECOGIG is a research consortium investigating the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on deepwater ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico. ECOGIG is one of 12 research consortia funded under the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. GoMRI is a 20-member independent research board created to allocate funds committed by BP for independent research programs following the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent Macondo well blowout.

For more information about the research vessels, see http://techserv.gso.uri.edu/ and https://www.usm.edu/marine/rv-point-sur.