δ13C and δ15N in Deep-Living Fishes and Shrimps after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico

Document Type


Publication Date



Mesopelagic fauna, Stable isotopes, Deepwater Horizon, Gulf of Mexico, Oil spill

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



The blowout of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) drill-rig produced a surface oil layer, dispersed micro-droplets throughout the water column, and sub-surface plumes. We measured stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes in mesopelagic fishes and shrimps in the vicinity of DWH collected prior to, six weeks after, and one year after the oil spill (2007, 2010 and 2011). In 2010, the year of the oil spill, a small but significant depletion of δ(13)C was found in two mesopelagic fishes (Gonostoma elongatum and Chauliodus sloani) and one shrimp (Systellaspis debilis); a significant δ(15)N enrichment was identified in the same shrimp and in three fish species (G. elongatum, Ceratoscopelus warmingii, and Lepidophanes guentheri). The δ(15)N change did not suggest a change of trophic level, but did indicate a change in diet. The data suggest that carbon from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill was incorporated into the mesopelagic food web of the Gulf of Mexico.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Marine Pollution Bulletin, v. 94, issues 1–2, p. 241-250