Location: Buzzards Bay, off West Falmouth, Mass.
Material spilled: No. 2 fuel oil
Amount spilled: 189,000 gallons
Spill extent: **
The spill heavily oiled one small cove in West Falmouth, Mass., near Woods Hole and the oceanographers at WHOI. That cove, Wild Harbor, has become the focus of more than 40 years of scientific research into the physical, chemical, and biological impacts of oil spills on coastal and near-shore ecosystems. Those efforts represent the first comprehensive, quantitative, and peer-reviewed studies into how oil affects the marine environment, including the transport and persistence of contaminants, the long-term health of plant and animal communities, and the very shape of an oiled coastline decades after a spill.
Scientists from WHOI and elsewhere continue to visit Wild Harbor to look for clues to how other oil spills might play out in the environment over years to come.
PublicationsCulbertson, JB, I Valiela, M Pickart, EE Peacock, and CM Reddy, “Long-term consequences of residual petroleum on salt marsh grass,” Journal of Applied Ecology 45(2008): 1284-1292.
Culbertson, JB, I Valiela, EE Peacock, CM Reddy, A Carter, and R VanderKruik, “Long-term biological effects of petroleum residues on fiddler crabs in salt marshes,” Marine Pollution Bulletin 54(2007): 955-962.
White, HK, L Xu, ALC Lima, TI Eglinton, and CM Reddy, “Abundance, composition, and vertical transport of PAHs in marsh sediments,” Environmental Science & Technology 39(2005): 8273-8280.
Peacock, EE, RK Nelson, AR Solow, JD Warren, JL Baker, and CM Reddy, “The West Falmouth oil spill: similar to 100 Kg of oil found to persist decades later,” Environmental Forensics 6(2005): 273-281.
Slater, GF, HK White, TI Eglinton, and CM Reddy, “Determination of microbial carbon sources in petroleum contaminated sediments using molecular C-14 analysis,” Environmental Science & Technology 39(2005): 2552-2558.
Reddy, CM, TI Eglinton, A Hounshell, HK White, L Xu, RB Gaines, and GS Frysinger, “The
west Falmouth oil spill after thirty years: The persistence of petroleum hydrocarbons in marsh sediments,” Environmental Science & Technology 36(2002): 4754-4760.
Teal, JM, JW Farrington, KA Burns, JJ Stegeman, BW Tripp, B Woodin, and C Phinney, “The West Falmouth oil spill after 20 years: Fate of fuel oil compounds and effects on animals,” Marine Pollution Bulletin 24(1992): 607-614.
Sanders, HL, JF Grassle, GR Hampson, LS Morse, S Garnerprice, and CC Jones, “Anatomy of an oil spil: Long-term effects from the grounding of the barge Florida off West Falmouth, Massachusetts,” Journal of Marine Research 38(1980): 265-380.
Sanders, HL, “Florida oil spill impact on Buzzards Bay benthic fauna,” Journal of the Fisheries Research Board of Canada 35(1978): 717-730.
Wertenbacher, W, "A small spill," New Yorker, November 26, 1973, 48-79.
From Oceanus Magazine
Still Toxic After All These Years
Does oil spilled in 1969 still have impacts on wildlife? Ask a fiddler crab.
Oil in Our Coastal Back Yard
An oil spill on WHOI's shores set the stage for advances in the science of cleaning up
A Local Spill Revisited
By John Teal, Oceanus magazine, 1993
By George Hampson and Howard Sanders, Oceanus magazine, 1969
MultimediaScience in a Time of Crisis, Chapter 1: Oil Spill Pioneers
WHOI's Response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Lessons from an Old Oil Spill
From The New York Times