This study investigated the impacts of several produced waters (PWs) from the North Sea on developing Cyclopterus lumpus larvae. Larvae were exposed for 96 hours early in development to 3 concentrations of 5 different PW solutions. They were then allowed to depurate until hatch. The results clearly illustrate that two of the five tested PWs are acutely toxic to embryos, even in the lowest solutions. These solutions resulted in little to no survival and hatching. Surviving larvae of the other three PWs demonstrated a myriad of sublethal effects including reduced standard lengths, reduced spinal ossification, reduced craniofacial growth. Larvae also exhibited signs of stress and extensive skeletal abnormalities. Several potentially novel phenotypes are described. The organic phase hydrocarbon components of each PW, including phenols and several groups of PAHs, were leveraged as explanatory factors. However, much of the variation in the data cannot be explained by the impact of PAHs alone. It is clear that other components, likely chemicals added to improve oil and gas production, which were not detected by the GC-MS, are equally as important in determining the toxicity of some PWs as hydrocarbon contaminants.
Keywords: produced water, Cyclopterus lumpus, acute toxicity, sublethal toxicity, skeletal development, skeletal abnormalities, oil production