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Antarctic Research Series



  • Ecology—Research—Antarctica—Antarctic Peninsula Region

Index Terms

  • 4251 Oceanography: General: Marine pollution
  • 4207 Oceanography: General: Arctic and Antarctic oceanography
  • 4219 Oceanography: General: Continental shelf processes



Marine disturbance: Contaminants

M. C. Kennicutt II and S. J. McDonald

Contaminant inventories, sources, transport and depositional processes, and potential biological impacts along the Antarctic Peninsula are summarized and discussed. In general, contaminants along the Peninsula have not been thoroughly or systematically studied. When reported, the most frequently measured contaminants are hydrocarbons, chlorinated organic compounds and metals. The greatest perturbations of the peninsular environment are related to the presence of humans and are generally local in extent (100's of meters). All stations studied to date exhibit a “halo” of contaminants, primarily hydrocarbons and trace metals. Catastrophic releases of contaminants have occurred (i.e., the Bahia Paraiso diesel fuel spill in Arthur Harbor). Long distance atmospheric transport of contaminants to Antarctica appears to be a minor input and the resultant concentrations are expected to be far below known thresholds for toxic or lethal biological effects. Measures of biological response, both inducible enzymes and metabolite formation, demonstrate that organisms are being exposed and have responded to this exposure in close proximity to a scientific station in Arthur Harbor, Anvers Island. Based on the available data, the peninsula appears to be relatively pristine and exhibits contaminant accumulation and measurable biological responses in close proximity to human settlements (i.e., stations).

Citation: Kennicutt, M. C., II, and S. J. McDonald (1996), Marine disturbance: Contaminants, in Foundations for Ecological Research West of the Antarctic Peninsula, Antarct. Res. Ser., vol. 70, edited by E. E. Hofmann, R. M. Ross, and L. B. Quetin, pp. 401–415, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/AR070p0401.

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