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Impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory aquaculture program

by F S Rikard, W C Walton
World Aquaculture ()


The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010 and the subsequent oil spill (DHOS) presented immense challenges for residents and businesses along the Gulf of Mexico coast. The Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory (AUSL) located on Dauphin Island, Alabama was no exception (Fig. 1). AUSL has faced its share of challenges in the past, especially in the form of hurricanes. But unlike hurricanes where the damage is immediately apparent and recovery begins quickly, the DHOS was a disaster moving in slow motion with potential impacts that may not be known for years. Questions of when would oil impact the Alabama coast, what would be the effects on water quality and when would the spill be stopped, presented difficult decisions about running the production and research operations of AUSL.

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