The University of South Florida, Eckerd College, Florida Institute of Oceanography, Hamburg University of Technology, Mote Marine Laboratory, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Pennsylvania State University, Texas A&M University, University of Calgary, University of Miami, University of South Alabama, University of West Florida, Wageningen University

September 2013 Newsletter
In This Issue
Contact Us
Research Updates
Education and Outreach
Related News
Coming Up
Quick Links

On the Web:

Contact List



Steven Murawski


Cruise Coordinator

Jyotika Virmani


Data Manager

Todd Chavez


Education and Outreach

Teresa Greely


C-IMAGE Coordinator

Sherryl Gilbert

Hello C-IMAGE Members,

I know you've missed us and your C-IMAGE administrative team apologizes for being quiet over the last 6 weeks.  Read on to learn about why and what your fellow C-IMAGE team members have been up to!  

Administrative .....


Conference Calls:

The summer months proved difficult to track everyone down, but our Fall 2013 Conference Call Schedule is:


Tuesday October 1, 2013, 11:00am EDT 

Task 4 Update: Impacts on Benthic Ecosystem, Plankton and Fish Communities, and Marine Mammals


Wednesday October 30, 2013, 12:00pm EDT

Renewal 1-Page Discussion (this date will change due to travel conflict, stay tuned for Doodle Poll)


Tuesday November 26, 2013, 11:00am EST

Task 5 Update: Ecotoxicology


Wednesday December 18, 2013, 12:00pm EST

Oil Spill Meeting/All Hands Meeting Discussions


As always, please use this time to connect to all of the other C-IMAGE partners if you have something you would like to discuss.


Renewal One-Pages: Thank you for your 1-page submission summarizing your thoughts for RFP-IV.  We are currently reviewing the impressive body of ideas and will be contacting you individually to discuss them.  We will follow up with a conference call for all members for a collective discussion. 


Contracts and Amendments:

If you have researchers and post docs new to the C-IMAGE program, please let me know so I can add them to the participant list, and have them fill out the updated Conflict of Interest form and email back to Sherryl Gilbert.  


We requested approval for carryover funding and project continuation last month and are awaiting approval.


We anticipate starting the contract amendment process in mid-November with your Year 3 funding.  Keep an eye out for document/signature requests.


Your Year 2 Quarter 3 report is due Tuesday, October 15, 2013.

Please make an effort to be thorough with your reporting.  We want to make sure the Research Board has a complete picture of our activities, especially your publication list.


Upcoming Reporting Deadlines:

Year 2 Quarter 4:  January 15, 2014

Research Updates.....
In the Field:
C-IMAGE researchers were ALL over the place this summer working with scientists from CARTHE, ECOGIG, DEEP-C, CWC, and GISR.  
On July 23, 2013, a shallow water natural gas rig ruptured and caught fire, releasing natural gas into the northern Gulf of Mexico.  Within days, GoMRI funded researchers coordinated a field effort out of Cocodrie, Louisiana to deploy drifters to track water/gas movement and to collect water and sediment samples to look for a signal in the water column.  The GoMRI site has a nice write up about this collaborative "Dream Team".
An ominous photo of the Hercules 252 rig owned by Walter Oil and Gas of Houston, TX. (Photo credit: S. Murawski)
A follow up effort began a few weeks later on the 2nd leg of the Blood and Mud Cruise (August 15-30, 2013).

"Sunday morning, August 25, 2013 dawned grey and blustery off the central coast of Louisiana.  In the approaching daylight we caught our first glimpse of the damaged Hercules #265 gas rig, and its companion relief well.  In stark contrast, one was a darkened and burned-out hulk, with equipment and cables draped over the sides of the rig platform.  The other was a bustling hub of activity and lights, with supply boats busily unloading equipment and rig workers.  Wanting to achieve as much as we could in the single day we had allocated to sampling near the rig, the GoMRI-supported scientific party aboard the R/V Weatherbird II had breakfast long before dawn and was ready to deploy the myriad of instruments it would use to evaluate if traces of hydrocarbons still surrounded the failed rig - in the sea water, on the bottom, in the fishes nearby, and in the air."


"Armed with results from sea surface drifters deployed by our colleagues aboard the R/V Acadiana cruise a month earlier, we chose to sample primarily to the south and east of the failed rig, where drift patterns suggested hydrocarbon traces would be, if present.  Starting at a location as close as safety would allow, sampling was conducted in three phases at 0, 5 and 10 nautical miles from ground zero."


"Approaching to within 200 meters of the Hercules rig, the first equipment deployed was the CTD, providing surface-to-bottom temperature and salinity profiles and water at various depths from the surface to the bottom 44 meters below.  Water samples will be used by Wade Jeffrey's laboratory at the University of West Florida to characterize the microbial community diversity next to the well and to search for enhanced levels of methane-consuming bacteria.  Sara Lincoln, a post-doctoral researcher at Pennsylvania State University will also use water samples to characterize microbial dynamics in the vicinity of the well.  Additional water samples were collected in serum vials by Samantha Bosman of Jeff Chanton's Florida State University laboratory to test for elevated methane levels in seawater.  Samantha opened several sealed canisters on the bow of the Weatherbird II to collect air samples for the potential presence of methane still being released from the crippled well."


"Following the deployment of the CTD, scientists and technicians from Steve Murawski's laboratory at the University of South Florida set 5 miles of longline fishing gear to sample the fishes in a continuous line to the southeast of the well.  A total of 508 baited hooks (100 per nautical mile) was set along the track.  Scientists aboard the Weatherbird II then retrieved the longline noting the sequential hook number of each catch.  A total of 64 fishes, including red snapper, king snake eel and a variety of sharks were caught.  Sub-sampling of the 26 red snapper included collection of fish bile, which yields to subsequent GC-MS analysis a sensitive biomarker of recent hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination."

Ph.D. student Amy Wallace (left) and C-IMAGE coordinator Sherryl Gilbert sample red snapper for contaminants aboard the R/V Weatherbird II.

"After the longline set, CTDs were taken at 5 and 10 nautical miles from the well.  These data will be used to determine if trace amounts of petroleum exist in the water and if they decline in concentration with distance."


"The final equipment deployed at 0, 5 and 10 miles from the well was the multicorer sediment sampling system from David Hollander's laboratory at the University of South Florida.  The multicorer collects 8 simultaneous 4" diameter sediment tubes; when appropriately analyzed sediment data can provide a chronological record of sediment type, grain size and contaminant loads.  By analyzing for the decay of radionuclides of thorium and lead, the sediments in various levels of the core can be accurately dated.  These cores will be analyzed for traces of hydrocarbons at the top of the core indicating recent contamination."


"It was late in the afternoon when the final sediment core from the vicinity of Hercules #265 was aboard and the Weatherbird II resumed its primary mission--sampling for residues from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill."

Pulling up the multicorer near the Hercules site.

 "Having GoMRI scientists on 'speed dial' created an efficient response network with the expertise to address important issues." -S. Murawski



USF News

Spill International

GoMRI Site


Blood and Mud, 2013:

No, this is not the name of an upcoming Halloween blockbuster, but the name that Steven Murawski and David Hollander came up with to describe their joint sediment and fish sampling cruise.  As a follow-up to the August 2012 expedition, PI's, post-docs, and students called the Weatherbird II their home for a couple weeks in August 2013 to keep up the time series to look for PAH signals in fish and sediments.  

C-IMAGE graduate student Snyder snuggles up to a HUGE king snake eel on the Weatherbird II.

Sediment cores were taken at over 25 sites and the longline effort hauled in over 500 fish for analysis.  Some of the sediment samples have already made the trip overseas to the Technical University of Hamburg for high pressure biodegradation studies.

Isabel Romero and Samantha Bosman taking sediment cores...... the mud.

 Future Cruises: 

November 7-16, Kendra Daly, RV Weatherbird

Education and Outreach.....


Teacher At Sea:

C-IMAGE welcomed Elisabeth McCormack and Kathryn Bylsma on board the Weatherbird II from August 5-12, 2013 for our Teacher At Sea program. Elisabeth is a science teacher at Dunedin Highland Middle School in Dunedin, Florida, and has a very interesting background from being a Coast Guard cadet to a Peace Corps volunteer.  Kathryn is a middle school science teacher at John Long Middle School in Pasco County, Florida.  She was recognized as Teacher of the Year a few years ago, and it's easy to see why from her engaging science posts on the Adventure at Sea blog.


Even Oil Spill International picked up our efforts!  Thank you, Maggie Dannreuther, for helping put together our story.



Oil Spill International

GoMRI Site



Elisabeth McCormack, C-IMAGE Teacher At Sea.


Kathryn Bylsma keeping the water flowing in the filtration rig.
During the cruise, the teachers were involved in ALL aspects of research, from CTD deployment, water filtering, SIPPER 3 assistance, Bongo net deployment, and sediment sampling.  The research and associated blog inspired them to be a little creative, and in their down time, they made this:

These teachers were on Kendra Daly's phytoplankton monitoring cruise. Additionally, Patrice Gilbert was on board, an editorial and corporate photographer.  She took some amazing photographs of while on cruise and has graciously allowed C-IMAGE to use them in our media products.  You can check out her gallery here.  Thank you Patrice! If you do want to use them, please credit: Patrice Gilbert or


Other Outreach Products:

C-IMAGE is moving forward with our podcast series, and during our visit to the Technical University of Hamburg at Harburg, David Levin from Mind Open Media was in tow collecting interviews and other interesting sound bytes for our next podcast that focuses on our high pressure work. 


David Levin talks with Rudi Mller from THUU about his high pressure experimental laboratory.


Mind Open Media:

C-IMAGE Partner MOM released our first audio slideshow this month, "Chemistry in an Oily Gulf".  David Levin met with C-IMAGE co-PI Dana Wetzel from Mote Marine Laboratory to talk about her motivation for her interest in oil spills.  It is available to view on our YouTube and Facebook pages!




St. Petersburg area teachers gathered at the USF Clam Bayou Marine Education Center on September 14 for an all-day workshop on building water temperature sensors. The workshop was part of the Student Enabled Network of Sensors for the Environment using Innovative Technology (SENSE IT).

SENSE IT brings real world environmental sensor networks into the high school classroom.  During the workshop, teachers learned how to construct and calibrate sensors using multimeters, thermistors, and other electrical materials. They also received supplies and instructions for building sensors with their students back in their classrooms where they will be challenged to design, build, deploy and interpret data from their own environmental sensors.


The sensor construction lessons incorporate a variety of disciplines, including science, engineering, math, and computer programming, and give students real-world exposure to the scientific process. Once teachers and students have gone through the initial water temperature sensor exercises, additional lesson plans are available through the SENSE IT website on how to make other types of environmental sensors.


Other Outreach Events:

The St. Petersburg Science Festival is coming up October 18-19, 2013. Many C-IMAGE co-PI's will have exhibits and activities that provide hands on experiences for the public to engage in their science.  For information, please visit:  

From GoMRI.... 
GoMRI has released some information on the RFP for 2015-2017.

Please visit their web site for details, but here is the current timeline for announcements and deliverables:
  • November 15, 2013 -2015-2017 GoMRI Research Consortia RFP release
  • January 15, 2014 - Pre-proposal deadline
  • January 16-March 3, 2014 - Pre-proposal review and feedback
  • June 2, 2014 - Full proposal deadline
  • November 14, 2014 - Award announcement
  • January 1, 2015 - Award start date


Thank you for your one-page summaries of your research ideas.  We will meet with you individually and have a consortium-wide conference call in the next two months to tighten up the ideas.


Site Visit from GoMRI Board Members
The GoMRI Research Board will be coming to the University of South Florida for a site visit November 4-6, 2013. Board members Raymond Orbach, Richard Shaw, John Shepherd, Denis Wiesenburg, and Dana Yoerger will attend along with Mike Carron, Jennifer Petitt, and Chuck Wilson from the GoMRI.  C-IMAGE will be proudly represented by Claire Paris, Michael Schlter, Kendra Daly, David Hollander, Steven Murawski, Cameron Ainsworth, Todd Chavez, Teresa Greely, and Sherryl Gilbert.  The GoMRI Board will also have a chance to speak with our students and post docs from USF, UWF, UMiama, and TUHH.  We asked our presenters to provide some slides summarizing research objectives and results and this request may be passed on to you.  Please provide them any material they request.  It is important that we remain focused in our presentations, but we also want to tell the full C-IMAGE story.
The Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference

Early bird registration closes December 3rd.  Hope to see many of you there!

C-IMAGE Meetings:


The Technical University of Hamburg at Harburg (TUHH) hosted the 1st Hamburg Symposium on Deep-Sea Oil Spills on Wednesday September 4, 2013.  The conference brought together North American and European expertise to improve quick and effective response to future oil spills and minimize their environmental impact.


Michael Schlter welcomes attendees to the conference.

To kick it off, Steven Murawski have an overview of GoMRI and the C-IMAGE project to 45 attendees who represented five countries, ten European agencies, three GoMRI-funded consortia, and private technology/instrument manufacturers.  "This was a fantastic opportunity to coordinate the research projects that our European partners are undertaking and to foster potential additional collaborators in the private sector.  The capabilities and ongoing studies discussed at the symposium will be critical to better understanding the nature and consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and in helping the offshore oil industry to avoid such incidents in the future".


C-IMAGE's international partners are from Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands with participants from a total of ten institutes.



Spill International


GoMRI Site


The following day was closed to outside participants so we had a chance to talk "C-IMAGE shop".  We heard from many of our students and post docs, gained new insight on the projects underway for the next year. Monica Schofield from TuTech Innovation gave a brief presentation on international cooperation and Horizon 2020.  

Marieke Zeinstra from the Noordelijke Hogeschool Leeuwarden talks about her research.


Our visit ended with a tour of the high pressure facilities.

Steven Murawski, Karen Malone, and David Hollander in the high pressure facility.

Marine Snow Working Group:


The MOSSFA (Marine Oil Snow Sedimentation and Flocculent Accumulation) meeting will be held in Tallahassee, FL on the campus of Florida State University October 22-23, 2013.  For the workshop the co-chairs have put together a website that describes the goals and research priorities of the MOSSFA working group.  Registration is currently closed, but you can check the website for updates and meeting notes.


C-IMAGE in the News....

C-IMAGE co-PI Dr. John Paul received some media attention earlier this month when his publication "Toxicity and Mutagenicity of Gulf of Mexico Waters During and After The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill" came out in Environmental Science and Technology.  His study indicates that, based on the Microtox and QuikLite toxicity assays and the Microscreen mutagenicity assay, toxic water existed in the northeast Gulf Mexico in 2010 and 2011 that may have been caused by dispersed oil from the Macondo well blowout.  
You can read the full article in the above link.

C-IMAGE Related Meetings:


October 22-23, 2013

MOSSFA Meeting, Tallahassee, FL


October 9-10, 2013

GoMRI Administrative Site Visit


November 4-6, 2013

GoMRI Board Site Visit


January 30-31, 2014

3rd C-IMAGE All Hands Meeting, Mobile, AL


Other Meetings of Interest:


Clean Gulf Conference and Exhibition: November 12-14: Tampa, FL

Discounted registration deadline is August 20, 2013


Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference: January 27-29, 2014: Mobile, AL

C-IMAGE participation in at least 6 sessions to date


Your C-IMAGE Administrative Team