Associations between Metal Exposure and Lesion Formation in Offshore Gulf of Mexico Fishes Collected after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

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Metal, Otolith, Microchemistry, Red Snapper, Red Grouper, Tilefish

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The objectives of this study were to: (1) examine patterns of short- and long-term metal exposure within the otoliths of six offshore fish species in varying states of health, as indicated by the presence of external skin lesions, and (2) determine if there was a change in otolith metal concentrations concurrent with the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill. Otoliths collected from 2011 to 2013 in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) were analyzed for a suite of trace metals known to be associated with DWH oil. We found that lesioned fish often had elevated levels of otolith 60Ni and 64Zn before, during, and after the DWH oil spill. In addition, metal exposure varied according to species-specific life history patterns. These findings indicate that lesioned individuals were exposed to a persistent source of trace-metals in the GoM prior to the oil spill.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Marine Pollution Bulletin, v. 117, issues 1–2, p. 462-477