The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Sunday, May 27, 2018

Smithsonian Holdings to Aid Researchers in Gulf of Mexico
Pink shrimp, right, and other specimens collected from the Gulf of Mexico, are seen at the Smithsonian Museum Support Center in Suitland, Md. on Tuesday, July 20, 2010. The museum complex holds a complete set of the invertebrate species that live in the Gulf of Mexico. AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin.

By: Brett Zongker, Associated Press Writer

SUITLAND, MD (AP).- Scientists studying the massive BP oil spill are turning to a vast collection of preserved animals at the Smithsonian to see what kind of changes the oil spill may wreak among life forms in the Gulf of Mexico.

The museum and research complex in Washington holds the most complete set of invertebrate species from the Gulf, offering scientists studying the spill's effects a look at life before the gusher began. A researcher pulling a creature from the Gulf can use the Smithsonian's collection to compare its size, body chemistry and other characteristics to a specimen collected before the catastrophe.

Smithsonian scientists began putting their collection to use just days after the oil spill, creating a digital map showing where each specimen was collected in the Gulf. Information from the collection could help settle conflicts about how much damage the spill caused, said Jonathan Coddington, head of research and collections at the National Museum of Natural History.

"Shrimpers are going to say, 'We're just not seeing any big shrimp any longer.' Then we'll go back to these collections and say the average size of shrimp prior to the spill was this," Coddington said, surrounded by thousands of jars containing worms and other Gulf creatures preserved in alcohol in a suburban Maryland warehouse. "It will come out which ever way it comes out. Facts help everybody."

Requests for loans of specimens and other information about the Gulf creatures have spiked since the April 20 explosion on a drilling rig leased by BP PLC unleashed the spill, said collections manager Cheryl Bright. It has also increased the urgency of efforts to catalog tens of thousands of specimens from the Gulf.

The collection includes more than 333,000 cataloged containers of invertebrates collected in the Gulf by the U.S. Minerals Management Service over the past 30 years. Another 39,000 jars are partially inventoried, though as many as 120,000 more haven't been inventoried at all.

The MMS, which recently changed its name to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, is considering transferring hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Smithsonian to help speed up the process, Coddington said.

Last month, Coddington described the backlog to a House panel and told them it would cost $9 million to finish the inventory of all Gulf specimens. He said in an interview the government has a responsibility to pay for the work.

"It's not a silver bullet for understanding the impact of the oil spill. But it's a chunk of one," he said.

The MMS conducted environmental surveys of the waters for years, specifically to help predict the impact of future gas and oil explorations. They began turning over the extensive collection to the Smithsonian for cataloging and safekeeping in 1979.

Biodiversity scientist Tom Shirley at Texas A&M's Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies said the Smithsonian serves as a repository for the world's ecosystems because its collection is so large. As research funding and projects ramp up, he said, many samples will be pulled from the Gulf that will be unfamiliar species.

"The big question will always be what's the species of those animals," he said. "Some things are obvious: You can identify them from books and publications. Other things you can't. The Smithsonian will come into play."

Shirley said one of his former students, Peter Etnoyer, is on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration cruise in the Gulf to study deep sea corals after the oil spill. Etnoyer's research draws extensively on on the Smithsonian's coral collection.

Still, scientists can't rely on the Smithsonian alone for a picture of the Gulf before the spill, said Monty Graham of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama. Marine centers in the region also have vast data on variations in plankton and other sea life from the days and years before the spill, for example.

"I think everybody needs to be asked what they have to contribute to painting this picture," Graham said. "It's a huge blank canvas."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

Suitland | National Museum of Natural History | Jonathan Coddington | Gulf of Mexico |

Today's News

July 22, 2010

Leopold Museum Pays a $19 Million Settlement for Egon Schiele's "Portrait of Wally"

Lost Franz Kafka Writings Resurface, Trapped in Trial

First Lady Michelle Obama Praises Designers Who Push Boundaries

Smithsonian Holdings to Aid Researchers in Gulf of Mexico

Musée Maillol Announces Exhibition of Treasures of the Medicis

Lynette Roth Appointed as Harvard Art Museums' Associate Curator

Gerald Scarfe: Heroes & Monsters at the German Museum for Caricature

Sir Peter Blake at Christie's: 60 Years of Printmaking   

Well-Qualified Crowds Discover 2nd SOFA WEST: Santa Fe

First U.S. Exhibition for Cuban Painter Raúl Martínez at Magnan Metz Gallery

International Participation Doubles for 3rd Edition of India Art Summit

Aperture Appoints Linda L. Truesdale as New Director of Development

Wallace Collection Announces French Drawings from Poussin to Seurat

Museum Folkwang Presents Innovative Project "Hacking the City"

The Statue of Liberty Evacuated over Faulty Sensor

Diego Rivera Created the Mexican Revolution Plastic Myth

Solo Exhibition of New Video Works by Sean Capone at Dumbo Arts Center

Bodies In Question Photography Exhibition at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts

Indiana Man Gives Painting to Colorado bin Laden Hunter

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- New Rembrandt found after being bought at London auction

2.- Exhibition at Fotohof focuses on groups in society who are at risk of marginalisation

3.- John Brennan collection of Rock n Roll memorabilia offered at RR Auction

4.- A Bob Dylan guitar fetches $495,000 at auction

5.- Exhibition in San Francisco focuses on the latter half of René Magritte's career

6.- 'Mad' king Ludwig II of Bavaria lost gift to composer Richard Wagner gets rare show

7.- New Royal Academy of Arts opens in celebration of its 250th anniversary

8.- Researchers uncover Anne Frank's 'dirty jokes'in her diary

9.- New York art sales near $3 billion in two weeks as uber-rich hunt trophies

10.- Berlin's Ethnological Museum returns grave-plundered artefacts to Alaska

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful