Seagulls as biomonitors for oil spill pollution

What are the long term affects to marine environments after oil spills? Scientists from Spain hope that the blood of Yellow-legged gulls will give them a better picture.

Researchers measured the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) levels in the gulls exposed to oil during the aftermath of the 2002 Prestige oil spill off the coast of Spain, one of Europe’s largest such disasters. The PAH levels they found were twice that of unexposed birds – even though the exposed birds were tested more than 17 months after the spill.

While PAH compounds have also been linked to cancer in humans, experts are zeroing in on gulls to see what happens long term to marine animals. The work focused on the ecological

Alberto Velando, a researcher at the Universidade de Vigo in Spain, and his team detailed their findings in the upcoming issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology. The study is called “Monitoring Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Pollution in Marine Environment after the Prestige Oil Spill by Means of Seabird Blood Analysis.”

Read more about the study at Science Daily