The understanding of the detection threshold and behavioral response of fishes in response to crude oil is critical to predicting the effects of oil spills on wild fish populations. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill released approximately 4.9 million barrels of crude oil into the northern Gulf of Mexico in 2010, overlapping spatially and temporally with the habitat of many pelagic fish species. Yet, it is unknown whether highly migratory species, such as mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus), might detect and avoid oil contaminated waters. We tested the ability of control and oil-exposed juvenile mahi-mahi (15-45 mm) to avoid two dilutions of crude oil in a two-channel flume. Control fish avoided the higher concentration (27.1 μg/L ς50PAH), while oil-exposed (24 h, 18.0 μg/L ς50PAH) conspecifics did not. Electro-olfactogram (EOG) data demonstrated that both control and oil-exposed (24 h, 14.5 μg/L ς50PAH) juvenile mahi-mahi (27-85 mm) could detect crude oil as an olfactory cue and that oil-exposure did not affect the EOG amplitude or duration in response to oil or other cues. These results show that a brief oil exposure impairs the ability of mahi-mahi to avoid oil and suggests that this alteration likely results from injury to higher order central nervous system processing rather than impaired olfactory physiology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry