NCCOS and its partners have published an environmental assessment of the bays and fjords on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. The report is intended primarily for state fisheries and water quality officials in need of habitat condition information to manage the region’s natural resources. The peninsula is an important hub for commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries, and an abandoned mining site in the region was a concern for the state.
The researchers collected water, sediment, fish, mussel, and benthic infauna samples, and analyzed the samples for a variety of contaminants. Pesticides, PCBs, and PAHs were relatively low, with the exception of Seldovia Harbor, which had very high levels of DDT, PCBs, and PAHs. Characteristics of the PAH compounds present indicate large contributions of pyrogenic sources (e.g., burned fuel).
The team also found that Chrome Bay, where the old mining site is located, had extremely high concentrations of chromium and nickel. Body burdens of three species of fish and mussels collected in Chrome Bay did not exhibit elevated concentrations relative to other studies in Kachemak Bay or the Alaska Fish Monitoring Program. Despite the very high concentrations of chromium and nickel in the sediments, the metals do not appear to be bioavailable to resident biota.
NCCOS led the project in collaboration with the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. The NCCOS Kasitsna Bay Laboratory and the Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve provided essential field assistance.
For more information, contact Ian.Hartwell@noaa.gov.