Seagull blood shows promise for monitoring pollutants from oil spills

Jan 14, 2008
Seagull blood shows promise for monitoring pollutants from oil spills
Seagull blood shows promise for monitoring pollutants from oil spills in marine environments.Courtesy of Alberto Velando, Universidade de Vigo, Spain

Like the proverbial coal miners’ canary-in-the-cage, seagulls may become living sentinels to monitor oil pollution levels in marine environments, report scientists in Spain. Their study is scheduled for the Feb. 1 issue of ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology.

In the study, Alberto Velando and colleagues note that researchers have known for years that large oil spills can increase levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in marine environments.

Studies have linked these compounds to cancer in humans. While oil spills quickly kill large numbers of seabirds and other animals, scientists do not fully understand the non-lethal biological effects of these spills, the Spanish researchers say.

The researchers measured PAH levels in the blood of Yellow-legged gulls living in the vicinity of the oil spill caused by the 2002 shipwreck of the Prestige, one of Europe’s largest oil spills. Gulls exposed to the oil showed twice the levels of PAHs in their blood than unexposed birds, even though these levels were measured 17 months after the initial spill, the researchers say. The findings “give support to the nondestructive use of seabirds as biomonitors of oil pollution in marine environments,” the article states.

Source: ACS

Explore further: Jumping hurdles in the RNA world

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Turmoil, conflicts cloud global energy future

Nov 17, 2014

The International Energy Agency's (IEA) World Energy Outlook 2014, with all its numbers, technical details and geographic breakdowns on oil, gas, coal, and renewables, makes a fundamental point. Advances ...

Halliburton buying Baker Hughes in $34.6B deal

Nov 17, 2014

In a deal that shows just how quickly falling prices can upend the energy industry, Halliburton is buying rival oilfield services company Baker Hughes in a cash-and-stock deal worth $34.6 billion.

Study: Global warming worsening watery dead zones

Nov 10, 2014

Global warming is likely playing a bigger role than previously thought in dead zones in oceans, lakes and rivers around the world and it's only going to get worse, according to a new study.

Recommended for you

Molecules that came in handy for first life on Earth

6 hours ago

For the first time, chemists have successfully produced amino acid-like molecules that all have the same 'handedness', from simple building blocks and in a single test tube. Could this be how life started. ...

Jumping hurdles in the RNA world

Nov 21, 2014

Astrobiologists have shown that the formation of RNA from prebiotic reactions may not be as problematic as scientists once thought.

User comments : 0

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.