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  • Scientists Research the Impact of Oil Spills on Fish

Scientists Research the Impact of Oil Spills on Fish

Apr 12 2019 Read 537 Times

It's no secret that offshore rigs and oil spills can have a catastrophic effect on the world's water sources. Now, scientists from the University of Manchester are fighting to clean up the North Sea with a study that explores the impact of oil spills on the cardiovascular systems of cold water fish.

Working with Dr. Elin Sørhus of the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research, Dr. Holly Shiels and Ph.D. student Martins Ainerua of the University of Manchester are studying how oil spills impact the heart development of juvenile cod and halibut. The heart is the first and most important organ to develop in fish larvae, with the team asserting that good cardiac heath is an essential part of adulthood survival.

"We know from disastrous crude oil spills like DeepWater Horizon, that components of oil negatively affect hearts of larval and juvenile fish," says Dr. Shiels. "But it is possible the Produced Water used in oil drilling - which is released even in the absence of a spill - may impact fish stocks. And this is especially a worry in areas where drilling occurs in spawning grounds as the eggs and tiny larvae are unprotected."

'Eggtox' project launched to protect fish larvae and promote healthy hearts

The team have launched two projects known as 'Eggtox' and 'PW (produced water) Exposed'. Both are designed to inform and educate oil companies planning to construct rigs in the North Sea, which is an important spawning ground for cod and halibut. There's a focus on how certain oil components can impact the electrical and contractile activity of cold water fish cardiovascular systems during juvenile development, with the team stressing that failure to develop fully-functional organs could have a disastrous effect on population health.

"This is important work. A thorough understanding of cardiotoxicity will improve ecological risk assessments and environmental health monitoring," asserts Dr. Shiels.

Environmental responsibility is a hot topic within the oil and gas industry, with the upcoming PEFTEC 2019 conference set to address a host of issues. Offering an overview of what to expect, 'PEFTEC 2019 conference and exhibition expanded' touches on the latest developments in mass spectrometry, as well as optical-feedback cavity-enhanced absorption spectroscopy, GC and GCxGC applications and supercritical fluid chromatography. The conference is scheduled for May 22 – 23 at the Rotterdam Ahoy Exhibition Centre in the Netherlands.

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