While many focus on the economic impact of the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, researchers from the Florida State University Coastal Marine Lab are now looking into a new area - for the past two years, they've been looking in the deep sea.
"Our shallowest sets are about 600 feet deep and our deepest sets will be up to about 8000 feet deep or so," said Dr. Dean Grubbs. "So we pull up a lot of real interesting, really poorly known species that very few people have ever seen."
The research vessel Apalachee pulled into the St. Andrews Marina to fuel up Sunday morning. The custom made vessel is perfect for the project that starts on the edge of the continental shelf off the Florida coast and works its way to the Louisiana Shelf, going right by where the oil spill took place.
Researchers are collecting tissue samples to see how animals in the deep water were impacted by the oil spill.
"Some of the less mobile species, especially the invertebrates were hammered by that spill," said Dr. Chip Cotton, "but some of the more mobile especially the larger fishes, which is what we're sampling, it appears that they were able to move away from that system during the spill and come back in so they're exposure was not as severe as it was for some of the invertebrate species."
But it's not just fish that we've never seen before that the researcher's work will address.
"There's a high degree of connectivity between the coastal environment where we do get most of our fishes for food and the deep sea," Grubbs explained. "It's all intertwined so you can't just have a microcosmic look at it and just study the shallow systems, it's all related in one big ecosystem."
Researchers say they hope to continue their work for two to three more years.