Michael L. Murphy
Stanley D. Rice
View Poster: Oiling of Spawning Habitat
Levels of oil contamination at pink salmon
streams in Prince William Sound were examined to document initial levels
of oil exposure and subsequent habitat recovery after the Exxon Valdez
oil spill. In 1989, 65 streams were heavily oiled and 85 streams were
In 1995, petroleum hydrocarbons were still detected in sediment at 8 of
11 oiled streams sampled. We analyzed over 300 sediment samples from 172
stream deltas that were collected by the Alaska Department of Fish and
Game in 1989-91, and we collected and analyzed an additional 71 samples
from 12 stream deltas (11 oiled, 1 non-oiled) in 1995 to determine
habitat recovery. The residual hydrocarbons detected had high molecular
weight consistent with weathered Exxon Valdez oil.
Many oiled stream deltas still had
significant levels of oil through the 1992-93 salmon incubation period,
similar to concentrations of oil in sediments associated in the
laboratory with impaired survival of pink salmon embryos. These results
indicate that leaching of residual weathered oil into incubation
substrate could explain persistent elevated embryo mortality in pink
salmon from oiled streams through 1993.
EVOS Trustee Final Report 97194
Murphy, M.L., R.A. Heintz, J.W. Short, M.L. Larsen, and S.D. Rice. 1998.
Recovery of pink salmon spawning areas after the Exxon Valdez oil
spill, Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Restoration Project Final Report
(Restoration Project 97194), U.S. Department of Commerce, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries
Service, Auke Bay Laboratory, Juneau, Alaska. (NTIS No. PB99-110207).
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