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Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Symposium marks two-year anniversary of oil spill

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This weekend marks the two-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a catastrophe that gushed nearly five million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, earning it the title of the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry.

Scientists, fishery experts and government officials will meet this weekend at St. Pete Beach at the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Symposium, where they will share the findings of their research, and offer direction for further study. This will be the largest gathering of experts since the spill.

Director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History George Burgess will speak about the current state of shark nurseries in the northeast Gulf of Mexico at the event.

“We haven’t seen a big difference in abundance of sharks between the before and after period, suggesting that at least in the case of the species that we see in that environment, the implications of the oil spill have not been particularly bad,” he said.

Burgess said there is concern over the oil that has carpeted the bottom of the deep sea.

“It’s sort of the gift that keeps on giving, unfortunately,” he said. “It’s not gone just because we don’t see it at the water’s surface.”

Burgess said the event will allow researchers to meet and discuss important information about current and future studies.

Emily Miller edited this story online.

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