Open Access

Effects of the “Amoco Cadiz” oil spill on zooplankton

A new possibility of ecophysiological survey
  • J. F. Samain1,
  • J. Moal1,
  • A. Coum1,
  • J. R. Le Coz1 and
  • J. Y. Daniel1
Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen33:BF02414748


A survey of zooplankton physiology on the northern coast of Brittany (France) was carried out over a one-year period by comparing two estuarine areas, one oil-polluted area (Aber Benoit) following the oil spill by the tanker “Amoco Cadiz” and one non-oil-polluted area (Rade de Brest). A new approach to an ecological survey was made by describing trophic relationships using analysis of digestive enzyme equipment (amylase and trypsin) of zooplankton organisms, mesoplankton populations and some selected species. These measurements allowed determination of (a) groups of populations with homogeneous trophic and faunistic characteristics and (b) groups of species with homogeneous trophic characteristics. The study of the appearance of these groups over a one-year period revealed the succession of populations and their adaptation to the environment on the basis of biochemical analysis. These phenomena observed in the compared areas showed marked differences in the most polluted areas during the productive spring period. Specific treatment of the data using unusual correlations between digestive enzymes is discussed in terms of the immediate effect on the whole population and on a copepod (Anomalocera patersoni) living in the upper 10 cm.