Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UCSB study examines heavy metal pollutants in fish at oil platforms and natural sites

A recent study by UC Santa Barbara scientists analyzed whole-body fish samples taken from oil-and-gas production platforms and natural sites for heavy metal pollutants. The results showed all but four elements were relatively consistent at both types of location. The findings were published in the Bulletin of Marine Science.

The research, led by fish expert Milton S. Love, a research biologist with UCSB's Marine Science Institute, entailed collecting a total of 196 fish –– 18 kelp bass (Paralabrax clathratus), 80 kelp rockfish (Sebastes atrovirens), and 98 Pacific sanddab (Citharichthys sordidus) –– from five offshore oil platforms and 10 natural areas during 2005 and 2006. Samples were taken at 19 sites between the Santa Barbara Channel in the north and Long Beach in the south. Three of the offshore islands –– Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Catalina –– provided some of the natural sites.

Platform Gilda in the Santa Barbara Channel hosts a variety of marine life.

Credit: Scott Gietler

Of 63 elements, 42 were excluded from statistical comparisons because they were not detected during analysis, were detected at concentrations too low to yield reliable quantitative measurements, or were deemed unlikely to accumulate to potentially toxic concentrations. None of the remaining 21 elements consistently exhibited higher concentrations at oil platforms than at natural areas.

For one species of fish, the Pacific sanddab, small fish around oil platforms had lower levels of three elements, selenium, titanium, and vanadium, whereas larger platform fish tended to have higher levels of these three elements. In addition, larger fish tended to have more tin at natural areas but more copper at platforms. "We are mystified and have no explanation for that," said Love. "It may have to do with different feeding habits between juveniles and adults, but we just don't know."

Twenty-seven active and seven decommissioned offshore platforms are located within the study area. There is great debate about what to do with decommissioned platforms. The study says that while decommissioned oil platforms in Southern California have historically undergone complete removal, "recent ecological studies indicate that platforms provide artificial structure for marine life, including many fish species of recreational and commercial importance, and may contribute to rebuilding overfished stocks."

According to Love, the federal government, which oversees most of the platforms off California, is looking down the road to the time when these platforms become uneconomical to operate. "No one knows when that will be," he said, "it is a purely economic decision, much of it driven by the price of oil." This study, sponsored by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, gives the federal government important information in the decision-making process for future decommissioning.

"The State of California has a law that says that complete removal may not be necessary," explained Love. "It's possible that the state will require owners to cut the platforms below the waterline and leave the rest as reefs. In that process, there are questions that have arisen over and over again: Are these fish polluted in some way? Are we leaving a structure filled with polluted fish?"

This study begins to answer that question. The findings do not support the hypothesis that oil platforms off California are major sources of trace element contamination in resident marine fish.

"In science, nothing answers anything definitively," said Love. "Because you can never know the truth; all you can do is approach the truth. All we can say is that based on this one study, heavy metal pollution does not seem to be an issue around the platforms we sampled."

Julie Cohen | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide

nachricht Malaysia's unique freshwater mussels in danger
27.09.2016 | The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>