Fate and Effects of Oil Spill Dispersants Particular Reference to the Deep Water Horizon Gulf of Mexico Spill


Gail George

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Environmental Sciences

First Advisor

Donald McCorquodale

Second Advisor

Curtis Burney


The Deep Water Horizon Spill has provided a testing ground for at least one dispersant, Corexit 9500, at great depths and high pressures. Preliminary submarine dives by scientists, have indicated the presence of an oily substance on the sea floor, while an oildispersant mixture has been found under the shells of blue crab larvae. This has implications for substantial reduction in species and for toxic effects to zooplankton and other organisms in the food chain. While dispersants have been a primary oil spill response strategy used in mitigating against economic and ecological impact to shorelines, sensitive habitats, marine life, human welfare and their use must not be the only line of defence in the fight against oil spills. The dispersant (Corexit 9500) was found to be effective in dispersing the oil into the water column and reducing impacts to marine habitats and the coastal zone but still had negative impacts on marine life.

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