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    Worldwide petroleum exploration and transportation continue to impact the health of the marine environment through both catastrophic and chronic spillage. Of the impacted fauna, marine reptiles are often overlooked. While marine reptiles are sensitive to xenobiotics, there is a paucity of petroleum toxicity data for these specialized fauna in peer reviewed literature. Here we review the known impacts of petroleum spillage to marine reptiles, specifically to marine turtles and iguanas with an emphasis on physiology and fitness related toxicological effects. Secondly, we recommend standardized toxicity testing on surrogate species to elucidate the mechanisms by which petroleum related mortalities occur in the field following catastrophic spillage and to better link physiological and fitness related endpoints. Finally, we propose that marine reptiles could serve as sentinel species for marine ecosystem monitoring in the case of petroleum spillage. Comprehensive petroleum toxicity data on marine reptiles is needed in order to serve as a foundation for future research with newer, unconventional crude oils of unknown toxicity such as diluted bitumen.


    Elizabeth J Ruberg, Tony D Williams, John E Elliott. Review of petroleum toxicity in marine reptiles. Ecotoxicology (London, England). 2021 May;30(4):525-536

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    PMID: 33725237

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