Marine mussels are a ubiquitous and crucial component of the nearshore environment, and new genomic technologies exist to quantify molecular responses of individual mussels to stimuli, including exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). We used gene-based assays of exposure and physiological function to assess lingering oil damage from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill using the Pacific blue mussel, Mytilus trossulus. We developed a diagnostic gene transcription panel to investigate exposure to PAHs and other contaminants and their effects on mussel physiology and health. Mussels were collected annually from 2012 through 2015 at five field sites (mussel beds) in western Prince William Sound: Herring Bay, Hogan Bay, Iktua Bay, Johnson Bay, and Whale Bay. These five sites were randomly selected and are sampled annually as part of the ongoing Gulf Watch Alaska long-term monitoring program (Dean et al. 2014, Bodkin et al. this volume). Reference samples of mussels were collected from three harbors that support high levels of commercial and recreational boating activity: Cordova Harbor in 2014, and Seward Harbor and Whittier Harbor in 2015. The five random sites represented approximately 3000 km2 in western Prince William Sound, and all were within the area of potential 1989 spill effects. Mussels were collected on the morning rising tide and dissected as soon as possible following collection, generally within one hour.
These data support the following publication:
Lizabeth Bowen, A. Keith Miles, Brenda Ballachey, Shannon Waters, James Bodkin, Mandy Lindeberg, Daniel Esler, Gene transcription patterns in response to low level petroleum contaminants in from field sites and harbors in southcentral Alaska, Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 2017, ISSN 0967-0645, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dsr2.2017.08.007.
Dean, T. A., Bodkin, J.L., Coletti, H.A., 2014. Protocol Narrative for Nearshore Marine Ecosystem Monitoring in the Gulf of Alaska, version 1.1. Natural Resource Report NPS/SWAN/NRR -2014/756. Fort Collins, Colorado.
Bodkin, J.L., Coletti, H.A., Ballachey, B.E., Monson, D.H., Esler, D., Dean, T.A., this volume. Variation in abundance of Pacific blue mussel in the northern Gulf of Alaska, 2006-2015. Deep Sea Res. II.