Response of the phoxocephalid amphipod,Rhepoxynius abronius, to a small oil spill in Yaquina Bay, Oregon
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A spill of approximately 284,000 liters of Bunker C and diesel fuel oils occurred at the entrance of Yaquina Bay, Oregon, following the wreck of the freighterBlue Magpie on 19 November 1983. A portion of this oil entered the lower estuary and was deposited on subtidal benthic habitats occupied by the phoxocephalid amphipodRhepoxynius abronius. This species is particularly sensitive to contaminants in sediment and its life history had previously been studied at the same sites affected by the spill. The oil was initially present as small, sand-coated globules at the study site, and persisted in association with detritus and sediment for months. Bioassays withRhepoxynius abronius showed that the oil globules were not acutely toxic unless mixed into the sediment at concentrations of 1.0 parts per thousand or greater. A series of 10-d bioassays before and after the spill showed that sediment collected from oiled subtidal sites did not become acutely toxic to this species. Although the density of theR. abronius population declined by 75% after the spill, similar declines of the same population were observed at this site in fall 1980. Oil-exposedR. abronius from Yaquina Bay were slightly more sensitive to cadmium in sediment than individuals from Whidbey Island, Puget Sound, Washington. Although mean fecundity was greater in 1984 than in 1981, recruitment following the spill was lower than in the 1980–1981 study. Thus, there is limited evidence for a small impact of the oil spill on this sensitive amphipod.
KeywordsMeiofauna Sediment Toxicity York Bight Field Sediment North Carolina Salt Marsh
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