In 1997, we compared the haematological and plasma biochemical profiles among populations of pigeon guillemots, Cepphus columba, in areas oiled and not oiled by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) that occurred in Prince William Sound (PWS), Alaska. Pigeon guillemot populations in PWS were injured by EVOS and have not returned to pre-spill levels. If oil contamination is limiting recovery of pigeon guillemots in PWS, then we expected that blood parameters of pigeon guillemots would differ between oiled and unoiled areas and that these differences would be consistent with either toxic responses or lower fitness. We collected blood samples from chicks at approximately 20 and 30 days after hatching. Physiological changes associated with chick growth were noted in several blood parameters. We found that only calcium and mean cell volume were significantly different between the chicks in oiled and unoiled areas. Despite these differences, blood biomarkers provided little evidence of continuing oil injury to pigeon guillemot chicks, eight years after the EVOS. Preliminary data from adults indicated elevated aspartate aminotransferase activity in the adults from the oiled area, which is consistent with hepatocellular injury. Because adults have greater opportunities for exposure to residual oil than nestlings, we recommend studies that fully evaluate the health of adults residing in oiled areas. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ltd.
Additional publication details
Comparison of pigeon guillemot, Cepphus columba, blood parameters from oiled and unoiled areas of Alaska eight years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill