Sunday, 30 August 2015

Sand patties provide evidence for the presence of Deepwater Horizon oil on the beaches of the West Florida Shelf

Volume 97, Issues 1–2, 15 August 2015, Pages 67–77


West Florida Shelf beaches show evidence of DWH oil.
Contamination from the DWH oil spill may have reached the beaches off of Tampa Bay.
First direct evidence directly linking West Florida beaches to DWH spill.
Corexit dispersant “signature” compound (DOSS) observed in St. Petersburg beach.


The ecological consequences of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill are both long-term and pervasive. The distribution of toxicity and mutagenicity in the Gulf of Mexico suggests oil from the DWH spill could have contaminated the West Florida Shelf (WFS). We utilized polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) analysis to determine presence and potential origin of oil contaminants in beach sand patty samples. PAH profiles from WFS beaches were statistically significantly similar to DWH contaminated samples from the Northeast Gulf of Mexico (Gulf Shores, AL; Ft. Pickens, FL). Dioctyl sodium sulfosuccinate (DOSS), a major component of Corexit 9500 dispersant was also detected in the sediments. DOSS concentrations ranged from 1.6 to 5.5 ng g−1 dry weight. Additionally, two samples from DWH oil contaminated beaches were acutely toxic and one WFS beach sediment sample was mutagenic. These observations provide support for the theory that DWH oil made its way onto beaches of the WFS.

Graphical abstract

Image for unlabelled figure


  • Deepwater Horizon;
  • Oil spill;
  • DWH;
  • Mutagenic;
  • DOSS;
  • PAH profile

Corresponding author.