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Oil spill shows importance of UNCW facility

READ MORE: Oil spill shows importance of UNCW facility

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The UNCW Center for Marine Science is home to some of the leading minds in their field. Today it hosted leaders from emergency management and higher education across the state to showcase its resources and show how its able to respond to a disaster like an oil spill.

With the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, marine science has taken a national stage, showcasing its technology and how it can be used to clean up disasters. Right here in Wilmington, we have one of the foremost facilities at the Center for Marine Science.

"The facilities that we have at this institute are really just amazing," UNCW Graduate School Dean Robert Roer said.

The Center for Marine Science has great resources in its labs, but its biggest asset is its location.

"We can get out to the Atlantic Ocean really in only a matter of minutes if we needed to, and we can get there as soon as an event occurs," UNCW Georgraphy Department Chair Lynn Leonard said.

Professors and emergency mangers across the state gathered for a tour to see the resources available here in case of a coastal emergency. From research vessels to underwater rovers and gliders, the technology is cutting edge, and it's getting good use. Ever since the Gulf oil spill, UNCW has been on it sending out crews off our shores and also to the Gulf.

"The biggest thing we're doing is getting a good understanding of what the conditions are now, so we can tell when change happens," UNCW Marine Biology Department Chair Martin Posey said.

"We undertook that as soon as the oil spill occurred so that we have the baseline conditions here off of North Carolina should any of that oil make its way to our coastal waters," Leonard said.

While it appears unlikely any oil will wash ashore in North Carolina biology professors are concerned about the long term effect on oysters and the seafood industry.

"If they think of the oysters as being contaminated, even once the effect goes away, will that effect the industry, not only there, but here?" Posey said.

In the months and years ahead, the technology right here in wilmington will continue to be used to help monitor the oceans and help make sure they're clean from oil. Right now, the university has faculty members on a research ship off the west coast of Florida studying the deepwater reefs off the area and trying to find our what effects the oil is having below the surface.

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