Faculty hope to learn from BP spill

Members of the Seton Hall community are conducting a research project, along with two other universities, to study the ecological effects of the BP oil spill on marine life.

Carolyn Bentivegna, chair of the biology department, is working with professors from the biochemistry and chemistry department, Nicholas Snow and John Sowa, in studying oil spillcontaminated fish. The three are also collaborating with Louisiana State University and Rutgers University.

“We want to discover if the oil contaminants contained in these fish are transferred to their predators when they migrate, which would have other ecological consequences, such as affecting the food web in other bodies of water,” Bentivegna said.

The researchers are trying to gauge how extensive the ecological effects of the oil spill are by studying the effects that migration by contaminated fish has on other fish species.

Concern for the ecological effects of the incident and the desire to obtain results that could be applied to future oil spills inspired Bentivegna to engage in this project.

“The ecological consequences of the unprecedented magnitude of the oil spill and the future implications of the research results inspired me to engage in this project,” she said.

Results from the project have revealed that oil contaminants are indeed found in different fish from other areas of the country.

“We have found oil contaminants in fish from Louisiana, Virginia and New Jersey,” Bentivegna said.

According to Bentivega, further results will not be released until organizations who provided grants to the research project, such as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Louisiana Fish and Wildlife Service, approve the results.

Bentivegna said she hopes the results provide a better understanding on the extensive ecological effects of the BP oil spill.

Angelo Montero can be reached at angelo.montero@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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