OR&R Partners on New Publication About Biological Responses of Pacific Herring Embryos to Crude Oil
DEC. 4, 2023 — OR&R has a long-term partnership with the NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) to develop science for natural resource damage assessment and restoration. One area of collaborative research has focused on understanding the impacts of oil exposure on forage fish, such as Pacific herring, which are keystone species in coastal ecosystems.
A new publication in Environmental Science and Technology reports on research, led by the NWFSC and supported by OR&R’s Assessment and Restoration Division, examining the biological responses of Pacific herring embryos exposed to crude oil. This study builds on decades of research examining the impacts of oil spills on Pacific herring, including more recent work establishing cardiotoxicity as a sensitive outcome from embryonic oil exposure that leads to lasting injury in fish. This publication confirms the sensitivity of early life stage herring heart development to injury from oil chemicals and establishes a new lower threshold for toxic effects caused by exposure to oil. The paper also proposes refined biomonitoring methods for injury assessment when conventional analytical techniques may not detect biologically relevant levels of contamination. In addition to NWFSC, co-authors include experts from the United States Geological Survey; Saltwater, Inc.; and the Institute of Marine Research.