Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 4588
Title: An evaluation of background levels and sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in naturally spawned eggs of Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) from Puget Sound, Washington, USA
Author: James E. West, S. M. O'Neill, Daniel C. Doty, G. M. Ylitalo, Margaret Dutch, J. P. Incardona
Publication Year: 2014
Journal: Science of the Total Environment
Volume: 499
Pages: 114-124
Keywords: Pacific herring,polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons,"Puget Sound, WA",

Pacific herring embryos spawned in nearshore habitats may be exposed to toxic contaminants as they develop, from exogenous sources in spawning habitats and from maternal transfer. Determining baseline concentrations of these toxic contaminants is important for evaluating the health of this species, especially during this sensitive life stage. In this study we compared concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, in naturally spawned herring embryos from five spawning areas across Puget Sound. The summed values of 31 PAH analytes (Σ31PAH) in early- to late-stage development embryos ranged from 1.1 to 140 ng/g, wet weight.  Σ31PAH concentrations increased with development time in embryos from one spawning area where the greatest concentrations were observed, and the relative abundance of PAH chemicals in late-stage embryos was similar to those in nearby sediments, suggesting accumulation from local environmental sources. PAHs in both sediments and late-stage embryos appeared to exhibit a pyrogenic pattern.  Although maternal transfer of PAHs appeared to be a negligible source to embryos in spawning areas with the greatest embryo PAH concentrations, maternal transfer may have been the dominant source in embryos from spawning areas where the lowest levels of embryo-PAHs occurred. Chronic embryo mortality has been reported in spawning habitats where we observed the greatest concentration of PAHs in embryos, and necrotic tissue in herring embryos from one such location was similar in description to phototoxic PAH necrosis reported elsewhere for embryonic zebrafish.

Theme: Recovery and rebuilding of marine and coastal species
Foci: Describe the relationships between human activities and species recovery, rebuilding and sustainability.