There is a growing understanding of how oil pollution can affect aquatic ecosystems, including physical and chemical effects. One of the biggest challenges with detecting the effects of oil-related contaminants on biota from resource development is understanding the background levels and potential effects of the exposure of biota to contaminants from various natural and anthropogenic sources prior to large scale oil and gas operations. Seabirds are effective indicators of pollution, and can be useful for tracking oil-related contaminants in the marine environment. We sampled four seabird species (black guillemot, Cepphus grylle; thick-billed murre, Uria lomvia; black-legged kittiwake, Rissa tridactyla; and northern fulmar, Fulmarus glacialis) in the Baffin Bay-Davis Strait region of the Northwest Atlantic and Arctic oceans, an area where natural oil and gas seeps are present but lacking any large-scale oil and gas projects. We found detectable levels of PACs and several trace elements in all species examined. Alkylated PAC levels were higher than parent compounds in all four seabird species examined, with fulmars and murres having the highest levels detected; mean hepatic concentrations of ?16PAC were 99.05, 46.42, 12.78 and 9.57 ng/g lw, respectively, for guillemots, murres, fulmars and kittiwakes. Overall, PAC concentrations in the seabird species examined were similar to PAC concentrations measured in other bird species in regions with more industrialization. These findings provide data which can be used to assess the current oil-related contaminant exposure of biota in the region. As well, they provide background levels for the region at a time when shipping activity is relatively low, which can used for future comparisons following expected increases in shipping and oil and gas activities in the region.
ErratumIn: Sci Total Environ. 2021 Apr 10;764:144682 PMID 33422303