Exposure to diluted bitumen spills is even more dangerous for salmon populations than initially thought, according to a new study by the University of Guelph.
The study concluded that, even if the fish are promptly moved to clean water following exposure, they are still up to 2 times as likely to die.
During the study researchers exposed four separate groups of sockeye salmon to differing amounts of diluted bitumen samples for up to 8 months after hatching.
Across the studies, up to 50 percent of exposed salmon died within 2 months of being moved to clean water, compared to just 2 percent of those not exposed.
The research also found that exposure to the substance causes the fish’s heart muscles to stiffen and kidneys to fail.