Preliminary Assessments of the Effects of Fuel Oil Hydrocarbon Exposure on Health-Related Parameters Among White Perch from the Patuxent River
In April 2000, a leaking pipeline spilled approximately 111,000 gallons of
fuel oil into the waters of the Patuxent River and its surrounding marshland in southern
Maryland. While initial clean-up efforts included wildlife recovery and rehabilitation, the
chronic effects of the oil spill on the Patuxent River ecosystem, including aquatic wildlife,
have not yet been determined. As part of our Chesapeake Bay tributary-based fish health
assessment project, investigators from the U.S. Geological Survey and other collaborating
agencies have sampled white perch (Morone americana) from the Patuxent River for a
variety of health-related indicators, both before and after the oil spill. Fish from other
Chesapeake Bay tributaries have also been sampled, so that fish health data may be compared not
only chronologically for the Patuxent River fish but among the different tributaries as well.
Fish health evaluation includes gross necropsy findings, histological examination of tissues,
and immune function assays. White perch tissues are also being analyzed for the presence of
hydrocarbon residues. As data collection is ongoing and data analysis is underway, preliminary
results will be presented and discussed.