Montara Well Release: Report on necropsies from a Timor Sea horned sea snake
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• One horned sea snake (Acalyptophis peronii) was collected in the Timor Sea on 29th September 2009 and transported to Curtin University for dissection and necropsy. • A total of five samples (1 muscle tissue sample, 1 gut content sample, 1 bile sample, 1 swab sample from skin and 1 swab from the inner lung ) were analysed for the presence of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPHs, by gas chromatography with flame ionisation detection) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs, by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry). • Expert examination of the chromatographic pattern produced in the TPH analysis allowed the qualitative assessment of whether the source of the compounds was petroleum hydrocarbons and/ or biological co-extractives (e.g., fatty acids, cholesterol). • The horned sea snake had petroleum hydrocarbons in its stomach contents but none in any other necropsies (muscle, skin, trachea, lung). This indicates exposure through prey ingestion. The absence of petroleum hydrocarbons in the trachea and in the lung suggests that inhalation of floating crude oil did not occur.
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