Impacts of Deepwater Horizon crude oil exposure on adult mahi-mahi (Coryphaena hippurus) swim performance

John D. Stieglitz, Edward M. Mager, Ronald H. Hoenig, Daniel D. Benetti, Martin Grosell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


The temporal and geographic attributes of the Deepwater Horizon incident in 2010 likely exposed pelagic game fish species, such as mahi-mahi, to crude oil. Although much of the research assessing the effects of the spill has focused on early life stages of fish, studies examining whole-animal physiological responses of adult marine fish species are lacking. Using swim chamber respirometry, the present study demonstrates that acute exposure to a sublethal concentration of the water accommodated fraction of Deepwater Horizon crude oil results in significant swim performance impacts on young adult mahi-mahi, representing the first report of acute sublethal toxicity on adult pelagic fish in the Gulf of Mexico following the spill. At an exposure concentration of 8.4 ± 0.6 µg L−1 sum of 50 selected polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs; mean of geometric means ± standard error of the mean), significant decreases in the critical and optimal swimming speeds of 14% and 10%, respectively (p < 0.05), were observed. In addition, a 20% reduction in the maximum metabolic rate and a 29% reduction in aerobic scope resulted from exposure to this level of ΣPAHs. Using environmentally relevant crude oil exposure concentrations and a commercially and ecologically valuable Gulf of Mexico fish species, the present results provide insight into the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on adult pelagic fish. Environ Toxicol Chem 2016;35:2613–2622.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2613-2622
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Environmental toxicology
  • Fish indices
  • Oil spill
  • Swim performance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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