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fiddler crab casts

Still toxic after all these years

In 1969, the barge Florida ran aground off Cape Cod, spilling 189,000 gallons of fuel. Prevailing winds blew oil from the barge into Wild Harbor in Falmouth, Mass., where decades later, scientists found residual oil from the spill buried in the salt marsh. They also sampled Great Sippewissett Marsh, which was not affected by the Florida spill. Scientists made plaster of Paris casts of fiddler crab burrows in both marshes. The Sippewissett burrows were straight and deep. Burrows in Wild Harbor did not descend as far and were stunted. The crabs appeared to turn back when they encountered oil. Learn more about this research in Oceanus Magazine.

(Photo by Tom Kleindinst, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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