Exposure of sea otters and harlequin ducks in Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA, to shoreline oil residues 20 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill

Jerry M Neff, David S Page, Paul D Boehm
Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 2011, 30 (3): 659-72
We assessed whether sea otters and harlequin ducks in an area of western Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA (PWS), oiled by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS), are exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) from oil residues 20 years after the spill. Spilled oil has persisted in PWS for two decades as surface oil residues (SOR) and subsurface oil residues (SSOR) on the shore. The rare SOR are located primarily on the upper shore as inert, nonhazardous asphaltic deposits, and SSOR are confined to widely scattered locations as small patches under a boulder/cobble veneer, primarily on the middle and upper shore, in forms and locations that preclude physical contact by wildlife and diminish bioavailability. Sea otters and harlequin ducks consume benthic invertebrates that they collect by diving to the bottom in the intertidal and subtidal zones. Sea otters also dig intertidal and subtidal pits in search of clams. The three plausible exposure pathways are through the water, in oil-contaminated prey, or by direct contact with SSOR during foraging. Concentrations of PAH in near-shore water off oiled shores in 2002 to 2005 were at background levels (<0.05 ng/L). Median concentrations of PAH in five intertidal prey species on oiled shores in 2002 to 2008 range from 4.0 to 34 ng/g dry weight, indistinguishable from background concentrations. Subsurface oil residues are restricted to locations on the shore and substrate types, where large clams do not occur and where sea otters do not dig foraging pits. Therefore, that sea otters and harlequin ducks continue to be exposed to environmentally significant amounts of PAH from EVOS 20 years after the spill is not plausible.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"