Ephyrae of the scyphozoan jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, were evaluated in 96-hr acute toxicity tests for lethal response to Macondo crude oils from the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) incident in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM), Corexit 9500, and oil-dispersant mixtures. Water accommodated fractions (WAFs) of weathered and unweathered Macondo crude oils were not acutely toxic to ephyrae (LC50s > 100% WAF). The total PAHs (TPAHs), measured as the sum of 46 PAHs, averaged 21.1and 152 µg TPAH/L for WAFs of weathered and unweathered oil, respectively. Mortality was significantly (p = <0.0001) higher in the three highest exposure concentrations (184-736 µg TPAH/L) of chemically dispersed WAFs (CEWAF) compared to controls. Dispersant only tests resulted in a mean LC50 of 32.3 µL/L, which is in the range of previously published LC50s for marine zooplankton. Changes in appearance and muscle contractions were observed in organisms exposed to CEWAF dilutions of 12.5 and 25%, as early as 24 h post-exposure. Based on the results of these tests, crude oil alone did not cause significant acute toxicity; however, the presence of chemical dispersant resulted in substantial mortality and physical and behavioral abnormalities either due to an increase in hydrocarbons or droplet exposure.
Keywords: Acute toxicity; Corexit 9500; Deepwater Horizon; Jellyfish; PAHs; Stress indicators.
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