Intense and localized benthic marine pollution around McMurdo Station, Antarctica

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Lenihan, H. S., Oliver, J. S., Oakden, J. M., & Stephenson, M. D. (1990). Intense and localized benthic marine pollution around McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 21(9), 422-430. doi:10.1016/0025-326X(90)90761-V
TitleIntense and localized benthic marine pollution around McMurdo Station, Antarctica
AuthorsS. Lenihan, S. Oliver, M. Oakden, D. Stephenson
AbstractBenthic sediments and animals are highly modified by human activities at McMurdo Station, the largest human settlement in Antarctica. The quantity of anthropogenic debris, contamination of marine sediments with hydrocarbons and metals, and gross changes in benthic communities are largely confined to Winter Quarters Bay, adjacent to the former dump site and the ice dock used by visiting ships. Levels of purgeable hydrocarbons in bay sediments are as high as 4500 ppm. Metal levels are mostly high within the bay, but are not greater than in the most polluted temperate habitats. Levels of anthropogenic chemicals are significantly higher in the back bay compared to stations established at different distances from the bay (along three potential contamination gradients), including reference sites many kilometres away. There are significant negative correlations between the total number of infauna or epifauna and the concentrations of hydrocarbons and most metals in sediments. The few animals living in the back bay are motile polychaete worms with opportunistic life histories, primarily Capitella capitata antarcticum and Ophryotrocha claparedii. Fortunately, the local physical setting apparently permits little transport of contaminated sediments from the bay, which is flanked on one side by a large submarine ridge and on the other by Hut Point. Hut Point also protects the bay from oceanic conditions. The back bay is over 30 m deep and the ridge top is only 18 m deep. The gradient of chemical and community change is extremely steep, but there are observable ecological impacts outside the bay along the front of the station. Although most historical inputs of pollution are removed or reduced and continued cleanup is planned, Winter Quarters Bay may require many decades to recover.
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Start page422
End page430
Subjectsheavy metal, antarctica, article, invertebrate, polychaeta, sea pollution, Invertebrata
NoteCited By (since 1996):61, CODEN: MPNBA