USF research vessel heading back into Gulf
ST. PETERSBURG - Under beautiful skies, the R/V Weatherbird II set out again for the Gulf of Mexico today, the vessel's fourth voyage to research the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Ten scientists and six crew members will spend a week on the ship. The National Science Foundation gave $147,000 for the University of South Florida research project. "Before, we went out to focus more on oil," oceanographer Joseph Torres said. "This time we're focusing on the little guys like shrimp and small fish. They're small but they start the food chain because the bigger commercial fish feed off them." The Weatherbird is heading to the DeSoto Canyon, a deepwater area in the northern Gulf where researchers will use nets to gather specimens from depths of up to 1,000 meters.More than 172 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf for months after the April 20 explosion and collapse of a BP oil rig 40 miles off the Louisiana coastline.
News Channel 8 reporter Adrienne L. Pedersen can be reached at (813) 731-8039.