A small spill of No. 2 fuel oil occurred near Wild Harbor, Massachusetts, in September 1969. The benthic fauna of the Wild Harbor Marsh, boat basin, and offshore area was sampled through the fourth and fifth years after the spill (1973, 1974). Sediment samples were analyzed for the presence of petroleum hydrocarbons. Gas chromatography produced evidence of hydrocarbons typical of weathered fuel oil in the sediments of the marsh, boat, basin, and two offshore stations. The numbers of benthic species at the offshore stations and the marsh were slightly, but significantly, lower than those found at control stations. Population densities were similar to control areas for the offshore stations but not in the case of the marsh. The boat basin was still heavily affected. Some stations were characterized by the presence of opportunistic species. The recovery process in terms of the total benthos has leveled off, but there was evidence for further recovery during the course of the study.

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Author notes

*A. D. Michael is also with the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.