Minimal incorporation of Deepwater Horizon oil by estuarine filter feeders
Natural abundance carbon isotope analyses are sensitive tracers for fates and use of oil in aquatic environments. Use of oil carbon in estuarine food webs should lead to isotope values approaching those of oil itself, -27頦or stable carbon isotopes reflecting oil origins and -1000頦or carbon-14 reflecting oil age. To test for transfer of oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill into estuarine food webs, filter-feeding barnacles (Balanus sp.) and marsh mussels (Geukensia demissa) were collected from Louisiana estuaries near the site of the oil spill. Carbon-14 analyses of these animals from open waters and oiled marshes showed that oil use was <1% and near detection limits estimated at 0.3% oil incorporation. Respiration studies showed no evidence for enhanced microbial activity in bay waters. Results are consistent with low dietary impacts of oil for filter feeders and little overall impact on respiration in the productive Louisiana estuarine systems.
Marine Pollution Bulletin
Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl. Marine Ichthyology)