Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oil Spill's Impact in Gulf

Smithsonian holdings may show oil spill's impact in Gulf

Jacquelyn Martin / The Associated PressPink shrimp, right, and other specimens collected from the Gulf of Mexico are seen at the Smithsonian Museum Support Center in Suitland, Md. on Tuesday. The museum complex holds a complete set of the invertebrate species that live in the Gulf of Mexico.

July 21, 2010 Scientists are beginning to determine the full impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and help guide its recovery. And they will need to know about all the creatures that lived in the water before the oil began gushing -- from the commercial shrimp to rarely seen giant squid and microorganisms.

That's where the Smithsonian's vast collection of 137 million objects can come in handy. The museum and research complex in Washington holds the most complete set of invertebrate species that live in the Gulf of Mexico.

The collection will serve as the scientific starting point for what lived there before the spill to measure the unseen impact, said Jonathan Coddington, head of research and collections at the National Museum of Natural History.

"Everybody and their brother is going to be going out to the Gulf and measuring stuff," Coddington said. "A lot of the controversy is going to be about what the impact of the spill was." Continued

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