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Assessing the toxicity of dispersed and weathered fuels on Antarctic marine invertebrates

Assessing the toxicity of dispersed and weathered fuels on Antarctic marine invertebrates
Frances Alexander


Frances Alexander
Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia

Catherine K. King
Australian Antarctic Division, Kingston, TAS 7050, Australia

Alison Lane
Environmental Resources Management Australia, Spring Hill, QLD 4000, Australia

Peter L. Harrison
Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia


Fuel spills in Antarctic waters are increasingly likely with the rise in shipping in the region related to tourism and research activities, both of which require and transport large quantities of fuel. While fuel dispersants are not currently used in the management of fuel spills in Antarctica, there is a need for robust and independent information and advice on the utility and possible use of fuel dispersants, and on their potential ecological effects in Antarctic waters. At present, very little is known regarding the effects of fuel dispersants on Antarctic biota. This lack of knowledge presents a significant problem for the development of environmental policies and operational directives for the management of even moderate scale fuel spills. This project uses toxicity testing procedures to assess the potential biological impacts of dispersed and weathered fuels on Antarctic marine biota. A range of Antarctic invertebrates will be used in bioassays including amphipods (Paramoera walkeri), echinoderms (Sterechinus neumayeri and Abatus sp.), bivalves (Laternula elliptica) and copepods (Paralebidocera antarctica). Toxicity will be assessed by exposing organisms to dispersed and weathered water accommodated fractions (WAFs) of three fuels commonly used in Antarctica: Special Antarctic Blend (SAB), Marine Gas Oil (MGO) and an intermediate grade (180) of marine bunker Fuel Oil (IFO). Preliminary results from tests conducted at Davis Station during the 2012/13 Austral summer season using a common planktonic copepod (Paralabidocera antarctica) and benthic Harpactacoid copepods suggest increased toxicity of all three fuel types when treated with dispersants.

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Key dates

  • 11th June 2013
    Registrations close
  • 21st June 2013
    Registrations at the AAD open for staff
  • 24th June 2013
    Registrations at the venue open
  • 24th June 2013
    Conference commences
  • 26th June 2013
    Conference concludes

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This page was last modified on 23 September 2013.