Coast News

Oiling Impact on Seagrass Requires More Study

A recent paper published online in Marine Pollution Bulletin summarizes existing literature on seagrass response to oiling, including both field and laboratory studies, which reveal inconsistent responses of seagrasses to oil exposure. The paper also adds a case study examining the potential oiling impacts to eelgrass (Zostera marina) from the 2007 Cosco Busan event in San Francisco Bay.

Senior Dr. Mark Fonseca, CSA Vice President - Science worked in collaboration with staff from both the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science and the NOAA Fisheries Restoration Center/Damage Assessment, SW Region to research and draft the article “Susceptibility of seagrass to oil spills: A case study with eelgrass, Zostera marina in San Francisco Bay, USA.”

The case study shows that neither long-term integrators of seagrass response (seagrass shoot densities and percent elongation of rhizome internodes) or a short-term indicator (seagrass photosynthetic efficiency) had consistent relationships to local shoreline cleanup assessment team (SCAT) oiling categories. The researchers concluded that seagrasses lag behind other coastal ecosystems in our understanding of their tolerance to oiling and dispersants and that conclusive studies examining the influence of degree and duration of oil exposure on seagrasses remain lacking.

For more information on this article or regarding CSA’s habitat mitigation services, contact Dr. Mark Fonseca (772-219-3065).

Online Article Citation: Fonseca, M., G.A. Piniak, and N.Cosentino-Manning. 2016. Susceptibility of seagrass to oil spills: A case study with eelgrass, Zostera marina in San Francisco Bay, USA. Marine Pollution Bulletin.

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