Sublethal biological effects on blue mussels of conventional and unconventional oil dispersed physically and chemically in a cold marine environment
The blue mussel is an important species in Canada, valued for its role in the aquaculture industry, its significance in the traditional diet of coastal populations, its role in the marine ecosystem, and its wide geographic range. When oil spills occur, chemical dispersants may be used to rapidly decrease concentrations of petroleum products in the affected area. An oil spill under ice cover in a coastal area could result in chronic pollution for farmed mussels or for mussels in natural beds. Although the low toxicity of new dispersants has been demonstrated for many aquatic species, the dispersant-oil combination can result in increased toxicity because the spread of soluble hydrocarbons is intensified by its dispersal and fine oil droplets are more easily assimilated by aquatic organisms. While many studies have been conducted on conventional crude oil, research on the toxicity of dispersed unconventional crude oil is only beginning to produce results. Moreover, no information is available on the toxicity of dispersed unconventional crude oil in cold Canadian waters.
The research project will examine the biological effects on the Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis) of a chemical dispersant and of conventional and unconventional crude oil dispersed physically and chemically. The sublethal effects of the dispersant and the dispersed crude oil will be studied at temperatures that are representative of the coastal Canadian surface waters; the duration of the toxicity tests will resemble an actual situation where dispersed crude oil concentration normally decreases rapidly. Effects on respiration, assimilation, energy allocation, and genetic alterations will be assessed. Taken together, these biological measures will help to determine toxicity at the organism level and to assess potential effects at the community level.
This project will inform Fisheries and Oceans Canada about the potential effects of chemically dispersed petroleum products in cold coastal environments.
2015 - 2017
Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast
Professor, Department of Biology, Chemistry and Geography, Université du Québec à Rimouski (Québec)
Gaëlle Triffault-Bouchet, Collaborating Research Scientist, Centre d’expertise en analyse environnementale du Québec
Réjean Tremblay, Collaborating Research Scientists, Institut des Sciences de la Mer de Rimouski – Université du Québec à Rimouski (Québec)
Jean-Pierre Gagné, Collaborating Research Scientists, Institut des Sciences de la Mer de Rimouski – Université du Québec à Rimouski (Québec)
Céline Audet, Collaborating Research Scientists, Institut des Sciences de la Mer de Rimouski – Université du Québec à Rimouski (Québec)
Stéphane Le Floch, Collaborating Research Scientist, Centre of Documentation, Research and Experimentation on Accidental Water Pollution
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