Monitoring the Prestige oil spill impacts on some key species of the Northern Iberian shelf

F Sánchez, F Velasco, J E Cartes, I Olaso, I Preciado, E Fanelli, A Serrano, J L Gutierrez-Zabala
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2006, 53 (5): 332-49
Selected key components of the continental shelf benthic and demersal communities were monitored for the two years following the Prestige oil spill (POS) in order to identify the possible ecological effects of the oil. This work includes the first results regarding changes in abundance, distribution and food habits of hake (Merluccius merluccius), four-spot megrim (Lepidorhombus boscii), Norway lobster (Nephrops norvegicus) and Pandalid shrimp (Plesionika heterocarpus) populations of Galician and Cantabrian Sea shelves following the POS. Significant reductions in the abundance of Norway lobster, Plesionika heterocarpus and four-spot megrim were detected in the POS maximum impact area, located over the Galician shelf. Noteworthy recoveries were observed in the 2004 abundance indices of four-spot megrim and Plesionika. On the other hand, no significant effects were detected in the abundance or distribution of hake juveniles even though the tar aggregates were bound by the same oceanographic drift events as the hake recruits were during the winter of 2003 (Navidad current) in different water column layers of the Cantabrian Sea. Feeding patterns of the four species analysed did not present apparent modifications that can be related to the POS.

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