Impact of 'Chitra' oil spill on tidal pool macrobenthic communities of a tropical rocky shore (Mumbai, India)
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A collision between the ships MSC Chitra and MV Khalijia 3 in the mouth region of Mumbai Harbour led to a leakage of around 800 t of fuel oil in August 2010, affecting the rocky intertidal region of Colaba. To evaluate the impact of this catastrophic event on the resident biota, a 15-month-long sampling programme was initiated in the oil-affected area immediately after the spill. Petroleum hydrocarbons in water and sediment organic carbon values were high just after the oil spill but subsequently decreased in the following months. In total, 70 macrobenthic taxa were identified. Univariate diversity indices indicated that while the ecological status of the site, albeit briefly, was affected during August 2010, a healthy environment prevailed subsequently. Cluster and multi-dimensional scale (MDS) analyses distinctly segregated the oil impacted monsoon months from the other sampling months. BIOENV analyses indicated that petroleum hydrocarbons and organic carbon were the anthropogenic parameters influencing macrobenthic community structure. Benthic Opportunistic Polychaetes Amphipods (BOPA) index was used to evaluate the ecological quality of the study area as the index is sensitive to oil pollution. Low BOPA values throughout the study period indicated that the environment was good with few opportunistic species. Comparison with past data revealed that the oil spill did not have long-term deleterious effects on the macrobenthic species diversity of this rocky beach, and reasons thereof are discussed.
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