Larval corals of at least some species are vulnerable to Deepwater Horizon oil and are especially likely to die when exposed to dispersants used during a spill, according to a lab-based study by Mote Marine Laboratory scientists published online Jan. 9 in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE.
This study is the first controlled test of how Deepwater Horizon oil and the dispersant Corexit® 9500 affect coral larvae — drifting offspring of corals that must settle and grow to maintain and expand reefs. While the study focused on two coral species from the Florida Keys — an area not directly impacted by the spill — the results highlight concerns about corals nearer to the spill site and provide new insights for mitigating oil spills near reefs.
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