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Effects of chronic exposure to the water soluble fraction wsf of hibernia crude oil on capelin mallotus villosus embryos

, : Effects of chronic exposure to the water soluble fraction wsf of hibernia crude oil on capelin mallotus villosus embryos. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences (1627): I-IV, 1-25

Capelin (Mallotus villosus) embryos obtained from intertidal aggregations of running-ripe capelin during June/July 1987 in Bryats Cove, Newfoundland [Canada] were exposed to five concentrations (0, 0.5, 1.3, 2.7, 5.3 ppm total hydrocarbons) of the water-soluble fraction (WSF) of Hibernia crude oil, with exposures beginning at 0 and 5 days after fertilization. Lowest observed effect concentrations (LOECs) for lethal effects were 2.7 ppm for embryos exposed at age 0 days and 5.3 pm for embryos exposed at age 5 days. At concentrations below these lethal levels, there was an inverse parabolic relationship between age at hatch and oil concentration. In all sublethal concentrations, embryos were significantly smaller at hatch, with significantly larger yolks, than control embryos. The intensity of eye pigmentation also declined with increasing concentration, but oil exposure did not affect the number of cartilaginous skeletal elements or cause skeletal or other deformities. This report provides the first quantitative results of the lethal and sublethal effects of Hibernia crude oil to capelin embryos. The effects documented suggest that the components of Hibernia WSF (primarily mono- and diaromatics) act as general stressors, inhibiting metabolism. The universality of these effects enables us to examine the ecological implications of oil pollution for capelin, even though the chemical and exposure conditions resulting from a unique event such as an oil spill are difficult to reproduce in any laboratory experiment. Capelin may be particularily susceptible to lethal effects on early life history stages. There is indirect evidence that the abundance of early stages of a year class affects later abundance; the spawning and harvested population in any local inshore fishery consists almost entirely of one or two age classes (3- and 4-year olds). Therefore, if stocks are discrete enough to home to natal spawning areas, a spill could have significant effects on local harvests 3 years later. Sublethal effects on age and size at hatch will also be important if they affect emergence from beach sediments and the subsequent transition to exogenous feeding.


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