September 18, 2019

New Study Shows Arctic Cod Development, Growth, Survival Impacted by Oil Exposure

Arctic cod surviving to the juvenile stage were smaller and in poorer condition 5 months after embryonic oil exposure. Top fish experienced clean seawater whereas bottom fish was exposed to brief, low concentrations of dispersed oil during egg development. Photo credit: NOAA

Today, a team of U.S. and Norwegian scientists published new laboratory research findings that show how an Arctic fish species can be seriously affected by small amounts of crude oil released into surface waters. For Arctic (Polar) cod in its early stages of development, crude oil can be lethal if exposure is high enough. Some exposed Arctic cod eggs die not long after hatching due to toxicity. At lower exposure levels, others experience developmental issues affecting their survival when they become larvae and juveniles. The new findings can help resource managers project how Arctic cod populations will respond to future oil spills. This will improve estimates of environmental risk and guide the development of mitigation measures, the latter to reduce the likelihood of accidents in forage fish spawning habitats. 

The full article can be read in the latest edition of the NOAA Fisheries News: