Bioaccumulation of petroleum hydrocarbons in fiddler crabs (Uca minax) exposed to weathered MC-252 crude oil alone and in mixture with an oil dispersant

Darcy A. Chase, Donn S. Edwards, Guangqiu Qin, Mike R. Wages, Morgan M. Willming, Todd A. Anderson, Jonathan D. Maul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


The Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in a sustained release of crude oil, and weathered oil was reported to have washed onto shorelines and marshes along the Gulf coast. One strategy to minimize effects of tarballs, slicks, and oil sheen, and subsequent risk to nearshore ecosystem resources was to use oil dispersants (primarily Corexit® 9500) at offshore surface and deepwater locations. Data have been generated reporting how Corexit® 9500 and other dispersants may alter the acute toxicity of crude oil (Louisiana sweet crude) to marine organisms. However, it remains unknown how oil dispersants may influence bioaccumulation of petroleum hydrocarbons in nearshore crustaceans. We compare bioaccumulation of petroleum hydrocarbons in fiddler crabs (Uca minax) from exposures to the water accommodated fraction (WAF) of weathered Mississippi Canyon 252 oil (~30 d post spill) and chemically-enhanced WAF when mixed with Corexit® EC9500A. Whole body total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) concentrations were greater than background for both treatments after 6h of exposure and reached steady state at 96h. The modeled TPH uptake rate was greater for crabs in the oil only treatment (ku=2.51mL/g/h vs. 0.76mL/g/h). Furthermore, during the uptake phase TPH patterns in tissues varied between oil only and oil+dispersant treatments. Steady state bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) were 19.0mL/g and 14.1mL/g for the oil only and oil+Corexit treatments, respectively. These results suggest that the toxicokinetic mechanisms of oil may be dependent on oil dispersion (e.g., smaller droplet sizes). The results also indicate that multiple processes and functional roles of species should be considered for understanding how dispersants influence bioavailability of petroleum hydrocarbons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-127
Number of pages7
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013


  • Bioaccumulation
  • Corexit EC9500A
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Dispersant
  • Fiddler crab
  • Gulf of Mexico


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