Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Baselines in Gulf of Mexico Fishes

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Book Chapter

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PAHs, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Gulf of Mexico, Ixtoc 1, Deepwater Horizon, Oil spill baselines

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The lack of baseline data has hindered the assessment of impacts from large-scale oil spills throughout their history. Baseline data collected before an adverse event such as an oil spill are critical for quantifying impacts and understanding recovery rates to pre-spill levels. In the case of the two largest oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), Deepwater Horizon and Ixtoc 1, the lack of comprehensive contaminant baselines limits our ability to project when the ecosystem will return to pre-spill conditions and assess the short- and long-term impacts of contamination on ecosystems. Beginning in 2011, we initiated comprehensive sampling in the GoM to develop broad-scale and Gulf-wide hydrocarbon contaminant baselines primarily targeting continental shelf fishes in the USA, Mexico, and Cuba. We also developed a time series of collections over 7 years from the region in which DWH occurred. In the event there is another oil spill in the GoM, the samples from these baselines will provide broad-scale but not installation-specific baseline information for the assessment of impact and recovery. This chapter provides a summary of historical sampling and current baseline data for pelagic, mesopelagic, and demersal fish in the GoM. Further, we outline the importance of ongoing and more specific collection of monitoring data for hydrocarbon pollution.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Baselines in Gulf of Mexico Fishes, in S. A. Murawski, C. H. Ainsworth, S. Gilbert, D. J. Hollander, C. B. Paris, M. Schlüter & D. L. Wetzel (Eds.), Scenarios and Responses to Future Deep Oil Spills: Fighting the Next War, Springer, p. 253-271