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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As Floridians brace for more crude oil on the state’s coasts, University of Florida researchers are racing to complete several newly funded projects that will help assess the magnitude of damage done by the spill.
One will look at an organism that is a sentinel for the ocean’s health and an important delicacy for Floridians and tourists: the oyster.
The Gulf of Mexico is home to some of the world’s largest expanses of healthy oyster habitat, but these resources may be threatened by rising sea levels, and now, the oil spill.
Researchers pushed their study of oyster reefs along Florida’s Big Bend area into high gear following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, said Peter Frederick, a wetlands ecology research professor.
The study near Cedar Key is one of three projects supported by Florida Sea Grant’s Rapid Response grant program, meant to help researchers quickly tackle environmental problems posed by the oil spill. Florida Sea Grant is a UF-hosted ocean and coastal science program that works closely with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (more …)