Marine Biology

, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 15–26 | Cite as

No. 2 fuel oil compounds in Mytilus edulis

Retention and release after an oil spill
  • J. W. Farrington
  • A. C. Davis
  • N. M. Frew
  • K. S. Rabin


Mytilus edulis contaminated by a brief 2-d exposure to a slick from a No. 2 fuel oil spill in the Cape Cod Canal, Massachusetts, USA were sampled six times during an 86-d post-spill period to study the rate of release of fuel oil compounds under field conditions. Detailed measurements of compounds by high resolution glass capillary gas chromatography and quantitative glass capillary gas chromatography-mass spectrometry-computer systems analyses provided a more comprehensive examination of release rates of different types of compounds. Biological half-lives were calculated for selected compounds for the first 21 d during which the release rates were exponential. Typical half-lives were n-alkanes, 0.2–0.8 d; pristane, 1.5 d; C-2 (dimethyl or ethyl) napthalenes, 0.9 d; methyl phenanthrenes, 1.7 d. Changes in relative ratios of C-2 phenanthrenes during the release period were observed. The evidence available to date strongly supports the role of molecular weight and accompanying properties of water solubility as the main controlling factors in the rate of release of fuel oil compounds by M. edulis. However, the data for the rapid release of n-alkanes and C-2 phenanthrenes also indicate molecular type and molecular configuration as additional key factors. The data from this study are compared and contrasted to data from short term experimental studies in the laboratory, longer term studies from chronic exposure conditions, and data from two other oil spills with longer term exposure.


Release Rate Phenanthrene Mytilus Edulis Molecular Type Pristane 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. W. Farrington
    • 1
  • A. C. Davis
    • 1
  • N. M. Frew
    • 1
  • K. S. Rabin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryWoods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods HoleUSA

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