Gelatinous zooplankton play an important role in marine food webs both as major consumers of metazooplankton and as prey of apex predators (e.g., tuna, sunfish, sea turtles). However, little is known about the effects of crude oil spills on these important components of planktonic communities. We determined the effects of Louisiana light sweet crude oil exposure on survival and bioaccumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in adult stages of the scyphozoans Pelagia noctiluca and Aurelia aurita and the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi, and on survival of ephyra larvae of A. aurita and cydippid larvae of M. leidyi, in the laboratory. AdultP. noctiluca showed 100% mortality at oil concentration ≥20 µL L−1 after 16 h. In contrast, low or non-lethal effects were observed on adult stages of A. aurita and M. leidyi exposed at oil concentration ≤25 µL L−1 after 6 days. Survival of ephyra and cydippid larva decreased with increasing crude oil concentration and exposition time. The median lethal concentration (LC50) for ephyra larvae ranged from 14.41 to 0.15 µL L−1 after 1 and 3 days, respectively. LC50 for cydippid larvae ranged from 14.52 to 8.94 µL L−1 after 3 and 6 days, respectively. We observed selective bioaccumulation of chrysene, phenanthrene and pyrene in A. aurita and chrysene, pyrene, benzo[a]pyrene, benzo[b]fluoranthene, benzo[k]fluoranthene, and benzo[a]anthracene in M. leidyi. Overall, our results indicate that (1) A. aurita and M. leidyi adults had a high tolerance to crude oil exposure compared to other zooplankton, whereas P. noctiluca was highly sensitive to crude oil, (2) larval stages of gelatinous zooplankton were more sensitive to crude oil than adult stages, and (3) some of the most toxic PAHs of crude oil can be bioaccumulated in gelatinous zooplankton and potentially be transferred up the food web and contaminate apex predators.
We conducted ship-, shore- and laboratory-based crude oil exposure experiments to investigate (1) the effects of crude oil (Louisiana light sweet oil) on survival and bioaccumulation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in mesozooplankton communities, (2) the lethal effects of dispersant (Corexit 9500A) and dispersant-treated oil on mesozooplankton, (3) the influence of UVB radiation/sunlight exposure on the toxicity of dispersed crude oil to mesozooplankton, and (4) the role of marine protozoans on the sublethal effects of crude oil and in the bioaccumulation of PAHs in the copepod Acartia tonsa. Mortality of mesozooplankton increased with increasing oil concentration following a sigmoid model with a median lethal concentration of 32.4 µl L−1 in 16 h. At the ratio of dispersant to oil commonly used in the treatment of oil spills (i.e. 1∶20), dispersant (0.25 µl L−1) and dispersant- treated oil were 2.3 and 3.4 times more toxic, respectively, than crude oil alone (5 µl L−1) to mesozooplankton. UVB radiation increased the lethal effects of dispersed crude oil in mesozooplankton communities by 35%. We observed selective bioaccumulation of five PAHs, fluoranthene, phenanthrene, pyrene, chrysene and benzo[b]fluoranthene in both mesozooplankton communities and in the copepod A. tonsa. The presence of the protozoan Oxyrrhis marina reduced sublethal effects of oil on A. tonsa and was related to lower accumulations of PAHs in tissues and fecal pellets, suggesting that protozoa may be important in mitigating the harmful effects of crude oil exposure in copepods and the transfer of PAHs to higher trophic levels. Overall, our results indicate that the negative impact of oil spills on mesozooplankton may be increased by the use of chemical dispersant and UV radiation, but attenuated by crude oil-microbial food webs interactions, and that both mesozooplankton and protozoans may play an important role in fate of PAHs in marine environments.
The oil released during the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill may have both short- and long-time impacts on the northern Gulf of Mexico ecosystems. An understanding of how the composition and concentration of the oil are altered by weathering, including chemical, physical and biological processes, is needed to evaluate the oil toxicity and impact on the ecosystem in the northern Gulf of Mexico. This study examined petroleum hydrocarbons in oil mousse collected from the sea surface and salt marshes, and in oil deposited in sediments adjacent to the wellhead after the DWH oil spill. Oil mousses were collected at two stations (OSS and CT, located 130 and 85 km away from the wellhead, respectively) in May 2010, and two sediment samples from stations SG and SC, within 6 km of the wellhead, in May 2011. We also collected oil mousse from salt marshes at Marsh Point (MP), Mississippi, 186 km away from the wellhead in July 2010. In these samples, n-alkanes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), alkylated PAHs, BTEX (collective name of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and p-, m-, and o-xylenes), C3-benzenes and trace metals were measured to examine how the oil was altered chemically. The chemical analysis indicates that the oil mousses underwent different degrees of weathering with the pattern of OSS < CT < MP. This pattern is consistent with the projected oil mousse movement from the accident site to salt marshes. Also, the contents of trace metals Al, V, Cr, Fe, Mn, Ni, Co, Cu, As and Pb in the oil mousse generally increased along the way to the salt marshes, indicating that these trace metals were perhaps aggregated into the oil mousse during the transport. Petroleum hydrocarbon data reveal that the oil deposited in sediments underwent only light to moderate degradation one year after the DWH oil spill, as supported by the presence of short-chained n-alkanes (C10–C 15), BTEX and C 3-benzenes. The weathering of oil in sediment may result from biological degradation and dissolution, evidenced by the preferential loss of mid-chained n-alkanes C16–C 27, lower ratios ofn-C 17/Pr and n-C 18/Ph , and preferential loss of PAHs relative to alkylated PAHs.
Oil spills are one of the most dangerous sources of pollution in aquatic ecosystems. Owing to their pivotal position in the food web, pelagic copepods can provide crucial intermediary transferring oil between trophic levels. In this study we show that the calanoid Paracartia granican actively modify the size-spectrum of oil droplets. Direct manipulation through the movement of the feeding appendages and egestion work in concert, splitting larger droplets (Ø = 16 µm) into smaller ones (Ø = 4–8 µm). The copepod-driven change in droplet size distribution can increase the availability of oil droplets to organisms feeding on smaller particles, sustaining the transfer of petrochemical compounds among different compartments. These results raise the curtain on complex small-scale interactions which can promote the understanding of oil spills fate in aquatic ecosystems.
Airborne toxic compounds emitted from polluted seawater polluted after an oil spill raise health concerns when inhaled by humans or other species. Inhalation of these toxic compounds as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) or airborne ﬁne particulate matter (PM) may cause serious pulmonary diseases, including lung cancer. Spraying chemical dispersants to enhance distribution of the crude oil into the water was employed extensively during the Deepwater Horizon spill. There is some evidence that dispersion of the crude oil decreased the emission rate of the VOCs but increased the emission rates of ﬁne PM that may carry toxic compounds. In this study, the cancer risks and non-cancer hazards of the detected VOCs and particulates for spill-response workers were estimated with and without use of dispersant under action of breaking waves. A subchronic exposure scenario was modeled to address the inhalation health threat during initial phases of an oil spill response. A dosimetry model was used to estimate regional deposition of PM. Use of dispersant reduced benzene cancer risks from 57 to 37 excess life- time cancer cases per million for 1 h of daily exposure that continues for 3 months. Adding dispersant resulted in emissions reductions of the lighter VOCs (up to 30% lower). However, hazard quotients (HQs) of the non- carcinogenic VOCs even after dispersant addition were above 1 meaning there are serious concerns about expo- sure to these VOCs. Inhalation of airborne particles emitted from the slick containing dispersant increased the total mass of deposited particles in upper respiratory regions compared to the slick of crude oil only. This study showed the application of dispersant onto the pollution slick increased the total mass burden to the human respiratory system about 10 times, an exploratory HQ analysis is presented to evaluate the potential health risk.
This study investigates the chaotic behavior of breaking waves by laboratory experiments and numerical modeling. Repeated laboratory runs with different initial velocity perturbations show that the wave profile before the wave breaks can be accurately reproduced, but the subsequent breaking process varies among runs, indicating the lack of repeatability of breaking waves in reality. Numerical simulations based on the Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics method are further carried out to examine the repeatability of wave breaking process. Consistent with the laboratory observation, multiple numerical simulations with variations in initial conditions present highly repeatable velocity field and free surface profile in the potential flow region but considerable variation at the breaking and post-breaking processes. Comparison also shows that 3D vortex structures induced by breaking waves are different among cases. Analysis of particle trajectory reveals that there is a similar trajectory thus a minor trajectory divergence among particles that are initially located at the pre-breaking region and the flume bottom, which are not directly impacted by the breaking process. However, a much more significant particle trajectory divergence is observed among particles that are initially located at the wave-splash region and the bore propagation region. The rate of divergence of particle trajectory under breaking waves is further examined by computing the Lyapunov exponent, a widely used indicator of chaos. This study reveals that different initial velocity perturbations lead to variations of near-surface velocity at the onset of wave breaking, which eventually cause the development of drastically different breaking wave jets and splashes. Therefore, the process of wave breaking, like many other dynamic processes in nature, exhibits a chaotic behavior.
The displacements of ensembles of colloids at the interface between oil and suspensions of the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa PA14DpelA indicate enhanced colloid mobilities and apparently diffusive motion driven by interactions with the bacteria. However, inspection of individual trajectories of B500 particles reveals prolonged, directed displacements inconsistent with purely hydrodynamic interactions between swimming bacteria and colloids. Analysis of the properties of colloid paths indicates trajectories can be sorted into four distinct categories, including diffusive, persistent, curly, and mixed trajectory types. Non-diffusive trajectories are the norm, comprising 2/3 of the observed trajectories. Imaging of colloids in the interface reveals anisotropic assemblies formed by colloids decorated with one or more adhered bacteria that drive the colloids along these paths. The trajectories and enhanced transport result from individual colloids being moved as cargo by these adhered bacteria. The implications of these structures and open questions for interfacial transport are discussed and related to the active colloid literature.
In response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, critical research has tracked the changes in petroleum hydrocarbons with environmental weathering. There are limitations, however, whereby single analytical techniques cannot always identify the wide breadth of petroleum and petroleum-derived compounds. We explore the analytical capabilities of ramped pyrolysis-gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (Py-GC–MS) to evaluate environmental samples of petroleum hydrocarbons from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. We show that bulk flow Py-GC–MS can quantify the overall degree of petroleum hydrocarbon weathering. Furthermore, thermal slicing Py-GC–MS can quantify specific compounds in the “thermal desorption zone” (50–370 °C), as well as characterize pyrolyzed fragments from non-GC-amenable petroleum hydrocarbons (including oxygenated hydrocarbons) in the “cracking zone” (370–650 °C). Our data also suggest an increase in thermochemical stability, concentration of oxygenated products and complexity of high molecular weight and/or polar components with advanced weathering. This analysis not only elucidates weathering trends in Deepwater Horizon oil over several years, but also illustrates the analytical capacity of this method for future petroleum hydrocarbon investigations, filling a void in research connecting Py-GC–MS and environmentally weathered oil samples.