ISSN 1063-0740, Russian Journal of Marine Biology, 2006, Vol. 32, Suppl. 1, pp. S32–S39. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2006.
The expanding production of crude oil at the conti-
nental shelf and shipment and transportation of oil and
its products entailed the crucial signiﬁcance of research
on the effect of oil toxicants on marine biocenoses.
Coastal phytocenoses are impacted to a greater extent
by oil contamination. The signiﬁcance of marine mac-
rophytes as producers of organic matter and breeding
grounds of many ﬁshes and invertebrates is well
known. At the same time, data on the effect of oil and
oil products on macrophytes are fragmentary and rather
contradictive. The present work is an attempt to sum-
marize and to analyze the available data on the oil con-
tamination impact on seaweeds. The study of the
response of macrophytes to oil impact is developing in
This approach includes nature observations with
description of change of projective cover, biodiversity,
and size-mass production parameters of seaweeds at oil
spill impact. We did not use the data of numerous pub-
lications concerning the damage of oil contamination
based on quite fair emotions, which, however, lack con-
crete ﬁgures referring to morphofunctional changes in
macrophytes subjected to oil impact.
On having reached the coastal zone, the crude oil
covers it with a rather thick layer. The “Amoco Cadiz”
accident entailed the covering of 200 km of coastline of
the Bretagne province (France) by 5–15 cm layer of oil
. In such instances macrophytes of the littoral and
supralittoral zone are the most vulnerable.
The emulsiﬁed oil, differently called “chocolate
mousse,” can stick to the thalli of algae, overweighing
and breaking them. Beyond mechanical damages, the
bleaching of thalli was often observed. However, Nel-
son-Smith  recorded that the surface of macro-
phytes with mucous thallus was not subjected to oil
sticking. Algae with mollusc fouling were the exclu-
sion. There is data that littoral alga are more subjected
to the alternating effect of spilled oil than deep-sea spe-
cies . At the same time, these authors stressed that
losses of parts of thalli at short-term oil spills do not
exceed the total losses of biomass during winter storms.
Comparative analysis of the littoral of Dal’neze-
lenetskaya Guba as a clean habitat and the polluted lit-
toral of the Murmansk Sea Port, where macrophytes
grow on stones covered by a layer of fuel oil, revealed
that the clean area had a much greater species diversity
of algae, 12 species with a 85–90% projective cover
contrary to 4 species with a 15% projective cover
recorded in the sea port area .
The research carried after the “Tampico Maru” oil
tanker crash at the California coast, displayed that one
of the key factors limiting the spreading of the brown
before the accident was the
eating away of the alga by sea urchins belonging to the
genus. Despite the fact that
had contact with the oil ﬁlm, young sporo-
phytes occurred in mass 2–3 months after the crash.
The perishing of zoobenthic species, including herbiv-
orous ones that occurred to be less sustainable to oil
impact, was considered to be a cause of the algal
growth. The other cause that the triggered growth of
was that the crashed oil tanker actually
became a wave breaker and provided a favorable hydro-
dynamic situation in the small bay. (Norph et al., 1964;
cit. in ).
Dispersants applied at the coast cleansing from oil
often enhanced impact of oil contamination to alga, as
they were more toxic than the oil . Application of
dispersants at the Cornwall coast almost had van-
Effect of Oil and Oil Products on Morphofunctional Parameters
of Marine Macrophytes
O. V. Stepanyan
and G. M. Voskoboinikov
Department of Marine and Ecosystem Research, Southern Scientiﬁc Center RAS, Rostov-on-Don, 344001 Russia
Murmansk Marine Biological Institute, Kola Science Center RAS, Murmansk, 183010 Russia
Accepted January 11, 2006
—In the present paper, the authors analyzed and generalized data on the oil pollution effect on marine
macrophytes at various structural levels.
oil, macrophytes, photosynthesis, respiration, growth rate, ecological strategy.