Gulf Oil Spill: Uncertain Impact?

Contact Brandi Palmer
Manager of Media Relations


Dr. Frank Muller Karger.

Dr. Frank Muller Karger. Click for high-resolution image"

What is the impact of the Gulf oil spill? It is a question being asked in legal and scientific communities alike. On Sept. 30, Dr. Frank E. Muller-Karger, a University of South Florida professor and director of the Institute for Marine Remote Sensing, talked with law students at Stetson about the science being used to assess the uncertain impact of this spring’s oil spill on marine life and fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico. Muller-Karger spoke Thursday afternoon at Stetson University College of Law as part of a lecture sponsored by Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy, Environmental Law Society and Maritime Law Society.

He explained that the scientific programs to assess the impact of the oil spill on the Gulf are ongoing: “The take-home message here is that there is so much that we don’t know about what happened.” Muller-Karger explained that it could take years to assess the impact of the spill.

Legal challenges associated with the oil spill were the subject of a faculty roundtable at Stetson Law in August. Faculty experts Christine Cerniglia, Blake Hudson, Tim Kaye and Ellen Podgor gathered to discuss the Gulf oil spill, past spills, the effectiveness of regulation and some proactive ideas. The oil has stopped flowing, but the lawsuits have only just begun to surface.  People, animals, industries and the environment in four states along the Gulf coast all face the possibility of lasting impacts from the offshore accident.  The title of Muller-Karger’s talk was “Scientific Programs to Assess the BP/Deepwater Horizon Spill and Its (Uncertain) Impacts on the Gulf of Mexico.” Stetson’s Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy, directed by professor Royal Gardner, is co-sponsoring a series of lectures throughout the semester. For more information about the institute, visit