Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Baselines in Gulf of Mexico Fishes

  • Erin L. PulsterEmail author
  • Adolfo Gracia
  • Susan M. Snyder
  • Isabel C. Romero
  • Brigid Carr
  • Gerardo Toro-Farmer
  • Steven A. Murawski


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.


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



This research was made possible by a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative/C-IMAGE I, II, and III. Preliminary data will be publicly available once validated and finalized. Final data are publicly available through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information and Data Cooperative (GRIIDC) at (R6.x805.000:0048, R6.x805.000:0052, R6.x805.000:0049, R6.x805.000:0051).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin L. Pulster
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adolfo Gracia
    • 2
  • Susan M. Snyder
    • 1
  • Isabel C. Romero
    • 1
  • Brigid Carr
    • 1
  • Gerardo Toro-Farmer
    • 3
    • 4
  • Steven A. Murawski
    • 1
  1. 1.University of South Florida, College of Marine ScienceSt. PetersburgUSA
  2. 2.Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y LimnologíaCiudad de México, CDMXMexico
  3. 3.New College of FloridaSarasotaUSA
  4. 4.University of South Florida, College of Marine ScienceSt. PetersburgUSA

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