Back to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's Homepage
  • Connect with WHOI:

Images: Oil in Our Coastal Back Yard

Chris Reddy, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, examines and collects oil-covered rocks at Nyes Neck in West Falmouth, Mass., following the April 2003 spill from the Bouchard 120 oil barge. Reddy and colleagues study the impact of oil spills and other contaminants on coastal ecosystems, with a particular eye on how the compounds disperse and decay with time. (Kevin Mingora, Cape Cod Times.)
Since 1969, three major oil spills have washed up within three miles of each other along the west coast of Cape Cod. Black shading (second slide in animation) shows where oil from the Bouchard 120 spill washed up on the shoreline of Buzzards Bay. Researchers from WHOI have used the marshes and beaches at Wild Harbor, Nyes Neck, and Winsor Cove to conduct intensive studies of the short- and long-term impact of oil on the coastal environment. (Photo: NASA; Maps: Jack Cook, WHOI Graphic Services)
(Dr. Joseph Costa, Buzzards Bay Project )
The Bouchard 65 spill in 1974 devastated the marsh of Winsor Cove in West Falmouth, Mass. Though the Spartina (marsh grass) was not visibly coated with oil in the days after the spill, enough chemical compounds settled into the underlying peat and sediments to wipe out the vegetation for years afterward (see next photo enlargement, 1977). (Photo by George Hampson, WHOI.)
Thirty years later, WHOI biologist George Hampson still monitors the recovery of the marsh grasses, which have not recovered to their pre-1974 state. New work at the site reveals that petroleum hydrocarbons continue to persist in the marsh. (Photo by George Hampson, WHOI)
At least 98,000 gallons of fuel oil were spilled into the waters west of Cape Cod, Mass. in April 2003 after the barge Bouchard 120struck an underwater ledge in Buzzards Bay. The accident prompted legislators in Massachusetts to increase fines for oil spills, implement new safety standards and navigational rules, and impose a two-cent per barrel fee to establish a fund for oil spill response and training. (Photo by Kevin Mingora, Cape Cod Times)
The barge Bouchard 120. (Photo by Kevin Mingora, Cape Cod Times)
Two generations of WHOI researchers have chronicled the effect of oil spills on the west coast of Cape Cod, Mass. Above, from left: George Hampson, Linda Morse Porteous, and Arnie Carr confer while observing the effects of the 1974 Bouchard 65 spill on Winsor Cove. (Photo courtesy of WHOI Archives)
Above, from top: Bob Nelson and Chris Reddy collect water samples and oil "pancakes" from Buzzards Bay in April 2003. (Photo by C.A. Linder, WHOI)
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is the world's leading non-profit oceanographic research organization. Our mission is to explore and understand the ocean and to educate scientists, students, decision-makers, and the public.
© Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Online edition: ISSN 1559-1263. All rights reserved