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Overlap between Atlantic bluefin tuna spawning grounds and observed Deepwater Horizon surface oil in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

Research paper by B A BA Muhling, M A MA Roffer, J T JT Lamkin, G W GW Ingram, M A MA Upton, G G Gawlikowski, F F Muller-Karger, S S Habtes, W J WJ Richards

Indexed on: 15 Feb '12Published on: 15 Feb '12Published in: Marine Pollution Bulletin



Abstract

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill impacted the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) during the spring spawning season of Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT). Overlap between BFT spawning habitat and surface oil in the northern GOM was examined using satellite-derived estimates of oil coverage, and spawning habitat models. Results suggested that although eggs and larvae were likely impacted by oil-contaminated waters in the eastern GOM, high abundances of larvae were located elsewhere, especially in the western GOM. Overall, less than 10% of BFT spawning habitat was predicted to have been covered by surface oil, and less than 12% of larval BFT were predicted to have been located within contaminated waters in the northern GOM, on a weekly basis. Our results provide preliminary but important initial estimates of the effects of the spill on larval BFT mortality, as concern continues over the appropriate management responses to impacts of the spill.

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