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Prior to the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, we lacked a comprehensive baseline of oil contamination in the Gulf of Mexico's (GoM) sediments, water column, and biota. Gaps in pre-spill knowledge limit our ability to determine the after-effects of the DWH blowout or prepare to mitigate similar impacts during future oil spill disasters. We examined spatiotemporal differences in exposure to and metabolism of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in two hake species (Urophycis spp.) to establish a current baseline for these ecologically important, abundant, and at-risk demersal fishes. Gulf hake (Urophycis cirrata) and southern hake (Urophycis floridana) were collected throughout the GoM during extensive longline surveys from 2012-2015. Analyses of biliary PAH metabolites and liver PAH concentrations provide evidence of exposures to di- and tri-cyclic compounds, with the highest concentrations measured in the northern GoM. Species-specific differences were not detected, but temporal trends observed in biliary PAHs suggest a decrease in acute exposures, while increasing liver PAHs suggest chronic exposures marked by greater assimilation than metabolism rates. To our knowledge, the present study provides the first multi-tissue contaminant analyses, as well as the most exhaustive biometric analyses, for both gulf and southern hakes. Though sources of exposure are complex due to multiple natural and anthropogenic PAH inputs, these results will facilitate the development of much needed health metrics for GoM benthos. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Environmental toxicology and chemistry
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