Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures

Tropical Oil Pollution Investigations in Coastal Systems (TROPICS)

Event Name/Location

1985 Oil Spill Conference (Prevention, Behavior, Control, Cleanup), Los Angeles, California, February 25-28, 1985

Presentation Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Research Planning Institute, Inc. (RPI) and Bermuda Biological Station for Research, Inc. (BBS) have implemented a long-term program of research on the fate and effects of oil spills and dispersants on coastal tropical areas. Tropical Oil Pollution Investigations in Coastal Systems (TROPICS) is an integrated study to allow examination of possible tradeoffs of impacts between intertidal and subtidal tropical ecosystems and to establish whether the application of dispersants to spilled oil in nearshore tropical areas is an ecologically safe means of minimizing damages to these habitats.

Baseline studies have been conducted at selected field sites to characterize and measure biological, chemical, and physical parameters prior to experimental spills. The fate and effects of dispersed and undispersed oil in the nearshore tropical ecosystem are being monitored for one year after the experimental treatments. Detailed measurements are being made of the mangroves and sea grasses to determine effects on primary productivity, growth, general condition, and survival. Infauna and epifauna are being monitored to estimate changes in density and diversity, and motile macrofauna are being observed to determine changes in distribution and behavior. Corals are being measured to determine changes in growth, abundance, and coverage; and the infauna, epifauna, and resident fish communities are being monitored as well.

The water column, sediments, and biota are being monitored chemically using discrete and flowthrough pumping techniques, largevolume extraction techniques, replicate sediment cores, and tissue samples of dominant biota. Samples are being analyzed using ultraviolet fluorometry (UV), gas chromatography (GC), and GC/mass spectrometry.

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