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Mahi-mahi, also called dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus), is a common pelagic species in the Gulf of Mexico and is highly coveted as a sport and food fish. The Deep Water Horizon (DWH) oil spill occurred in one of the spawning region of mahi-mahi, which may have impacted the populations. Understanding the full impact that oil exposure has had on this species is crucial both for the population ecology and because saltwater recreational fishing alone brings in over $10 billion to the Gulf states.

RECOVER2 scientists are examining the detrimental effects of oil on mahi-mahi (and red drum) at all levels, from cells to population dynamics. Pr Claire B. Paris and her postdoctoral research fellow Dr Robin Faillettaz focus on the population level and investigate the dynamic physical-biological interactions via Lagrangian modeling of the transport and survival of fish embryos under UV exposure and PAHs stressors. First, they will gather all information available on the biology of mahi-mahi from tag and laboratory data (e.g., timing, location, depth, temperature of spawning, diameter and specific gravity of embryos) that can be used to parameterize the Connectivity Modeling System (CMS [ADD LINK?]). Various configurations will be tested to simulate the transport of virtual embryos and their vertical distribution. A new module will be implemented in the CMS in the model to test for the effect of UV-exposure on early file stages between regions and seasons. In parallel, oil concentration from the DWH spill will be tracked to produce maps of PAHs-exposure that will be combined with the UV-exposure module to study the interactions between stressors.

This synthetic numerical modeling work integrates research over multiple scales across PIs of the consortium, from physiological-level responses of embryos, adults swimming and spawning behavior, and environmental conditions.