A new federal fisheries report documents the lasting cardiac impact on pink salmon and herring embryos exposed to crude oil from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound.

The study published Sept. 8 in Scientific Reports, an online only open access website of the publication Nature is the work of scientists in Alaska and Washington State affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The study, led by John Incardona, a supervisory research toxicologist with NOAA Fisheries in Seattle, was funded in part by a grant from the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens' Advisory Council.

The Exxon Valdez disaster exposed embryos of pink salmon and Pacific herring to crude oil in shoreline spawning habitats throughout Prince William Sound, the scientists said.

The study notes that "the role of the spill, if any, in the decline of the herring fishery remains one of the most controversial unanswered questions in modern natural resource injury assessment.

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