Study: Old oil spill affects wildlife

April 25, 2007

U.S. scientists have found the first evidence of biological effects of an oil spill that occurred 38 years ago in a marsh that apparently had recovered.

Through a series of field observations and laboratory experiments with salt marsh fiddler crabs, doctoral student Jennifer Culbertson and colleagues from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution found burrowing behavior, escape response, feeding rate and population abundance are significantly altered when the crabs are exposed to leftover oil compounds from the 1969 spill.

The study builds on previous work that showed oil compounds from the 1969 wreck of the barge Florida linger in sediment 3 to 8 inches below the surface of Wild Harbor in Falmouth, Mass.

Burrowing fiddler crabs in the marsh won't dig more than a few inches into the sediment in the areas most affected by the spill, the scientists reported.

The research by Culbertson, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution marine chemist Chris Reddy, ecologist Ivan Valiela and several student colleagues appears in the online version of the Marine Pollution Bulletin and will be published in the journal's print edition this spring.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Health defects found in fish exposed to Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Related Stories

Scientists: Gulf health nearly at pre-spill level

April 18, 2011

(AP) -- Scientists judge the overall health of the Gulf of Mexico as nearly back to normal one year after the BP oil spill, but with glaring blemishes that restrain their optimism about nature's resiliency, an Associated ...

Scientists lower Gulf health grade

October 18, 2010

(AP) -- Six months after the rig explosion that led to the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, damage to the Gulf of Mexico can be measured more in increments than extinctions, say scientists polled by The Associated ...

US urges focus on clean-up, sea damage after BP spill

August 8, 2010

US officials on Sunday urged further study of the damage done to the environment by BP's broken well, and said clean-up efforts must continue despite claims that much of the oil had vanished from the Gulf of Mexico.

La. fishermen wrinkle their noses at 'smell tests'

August 3, 2010

(AP) -- Even the people who make their living off the seafood-rich waters of Louisiana's St. Bernard Parish have a hard time swallowing the government's assurances that fish harvested in the shallow, muddy waters just offshore ...

Recommended for you

A cataclysmic event of a certain age

July 27, 2015

At the end of the Pleistocene period, approximately 12,800 years ago—give or take a few centuries—a cosmic impact triggered an abrupt cooling episode that earth scientists refer to as the Younger Dryas.

'Carbon sink' detected underneath world's deserts

July 28, 2015

The world's deserts may be storing some of the climate-changing carbon dioxide emitted by human activities, a new study suggests. Massive aquifers underneath deserts could hold more carbon than all the plants on land, according ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.