The Potential Impact of Hydrocarbons on Mussels in Port au Port Bay, Newfoundland

TitleThe Potential Impact of Hydrocarbons on Mussels in Port au Port Bay, Newfoundland
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsCook, MC, May, A, Kohl, L, Van Biesen, G, Parrish, CC, Morrill, PL
Number of Pages1 - 22
ISBN Number9780128151051
KeywordsHealth indices, Hydrocarbon contamination, Mussels, Petroleum, Scallops

Since 2012, the scallop fishery in Port au Port Bay, Newfoundland, Canada has experienced a drastic decline, while no decline was observed in adjacent St. George's Bay. Local fishermen have raised concerns about an abandoned oil exploration well in the Port au Port Bay. This study investigated the potential impact of petroleum hydrocarbons on sediments and blue mussels [Mytilus edulis] (a proxy organism for scallops) in the area. Sediments from both bays were characterized for their hydrocarbons and compared to potential petroleum hydrocarbon sources. Mussels were analysed for health indices and their 14C content. The results showed that the concentration of hydrocarbons found in the sediments of the fishing ground was within the range of unpolluted marine sediments and that the hydrocarbons present were likely from a mixture of sources. The health indices of the mussels in Port au Port Bay were similar to the health indices of mussels in St. George's Bay and the 14C content of the mussels from both bays was modern. These data suggest that the Port au Port fishing ground was not solely contaminated from crude oil leaking from an oil exploration well, that the mussels were not contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons, and that Port au Port mussels were just as healthy as the mussels of St. George's Bay. Therefore, whatever caused the scallop decline was most likely scallop- and bay-specific. During this study a fast and efficient method for extracting petroleum hydrocarbons from sediment using accelerated solvent extraction with integrated silica gel was developed.