Since people started drilling for oil there have been accidental oil spills at sea that are harmful to marine life. For instance, birds and other animals get covered in the thick oil and many die as a result. Although some of the negative impacts of oil spills are immediately noticeable, the long-term effects on animals like fish are less certain. Therefore, we wanted to determine what effect a major oil spill can have on the number and “health” of recently hatched fish (larva is singular, larvae is plural) in a marine environment.
We studied the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill (DWHOS) and found that the number of Red Snapper larvae did not change before, during, and after the spill but the health of larvae was poorer after the accident. Although we cannot conclude that the oil spill caused this decrease in health, we think that some combination of factors that coincided with the event negatively impacted larval Red Snapper.