Publication on Impacts of Oil on Sand Beaches
MAY 1, 2023 — This month, the Assessment and Restoration Division's Bryand Duke and his co-authors published their work on PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) uptake by talitrids via habitat (sand) and food (kelp) exposure.
Published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, the paper documents work conducted as part of an oil spill in California and demonstrates that the predominant pathway for exposure of these amphipods to oil is through contaminated beach sediment. Talitrid amphipods live in the intertidal zone of beaches and are primary consumers of plant materials (wrack) that wash up on shore and are prey for birds and fish. These organisms are important to the beach food web and can be exposed to hydrocarbons by direct contact with oiled sand through burrowing and by the consumption of oiled wrack.
This important work indicates that exposure to PAHs from oil spills is driven by exposure to beach sediment and much less so by consumption of wrack. It highlights a key pathway for how negative impacts can occur to sandy beach ecosystems from oil spills.