Albemarle Corp., Ocean Alliance and the University of Southern Maine started a 14-week research program to study the impacts of the recent oil spills and Mississippi River flooding on the Gulf of Mexico.

On Wednesday, a 10-person team launched from Key West, Fla., to collect samples from fish, squid, krill, sperm whales and Bryde’s whales, as well as water samples from various depths in an attempt to measure the health of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, according to a news release from the groups.

The expedition is supported by a number of foundations and individuals as well as by primary sponsor Albemarle Corporation.

The expedition will do its research in places where the Gulf of Mexico is 3,000 feet deep. Researchers will spend considerable time working within five to 100 miles of the Deepwater Horizon site.

Each expedition leg will last around two weeks, with students and scientists joining the Odyssey for different legs, according to the news release.

The data collected on the expedition will be taken to the University of Southern Maine and analyzed by researchers at the Wise Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology.

The report is expected to help scientists better understand what can be done to reduce impacts these types of incidents have on the Gulf of Mexico.

Daily blog updates on the research will be posted at http://www.oceanalliance.org and through links at http://www.albemarle.com.