Effects of suspended drill cuttings on the coral Lophelia pertusa using pulsed and continuous exposure scenarios.J Toxicol Environ Health A. 2018; 81(10):361-382.JT
This study aimed at providing confidence in the predictability of the impacts of drill cuttings (DC) discharge on the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa. L. pertusa was exposed to DC from offshore exploration in the lab with the goal to assess precautionary thresholds of effects. Two exposure scenarios with DC were tested: a long-term (LT) pulsed exposure (12 weeks, peak concentrations: 2-50 mg/L, mean concentrations: 1-25 mg/L) and a short-term (ST) continuous exposure (2.5 weeks, mean concentrations: 4-42 mg/L). After exposure, a recovery period of 16 and 4 weeks was maintained in LT and ST, respectively. While there was an assumption that DC might result in an increase in respiration, decrease in growth, enhanced mucus production, reduced fatty acid content, only a significant rise was noted in skeleton growth at DC 4 mg/L and a significant increase of mucus particulate organic carbon at 25 mg/L at end of the exposure. DC did not markedly reduce prey capture rate consecutive to DC exposure. However, the effect of DC produced an increase of coral polyp activity during exposure and a return to pre-exposure conditions after cessation of DC, and coenosarc was smothered from DC even after a long recovery period (4 weeks). Overall, a DC concentration of 10 mg/L seems to represent a threshold above which changes in coral conditions were observed however with no apparent physiological consequences for the coral within the experimental time scale.