An evaluation of mercury offloading in two Central California elasmobranchs

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Van Hees, K. E., & Ebert, D. A. (2017). An evaluation of mercury offloading in two Central California elasmobranchs. Science of The Total Environment.
TitleAn evaluation of mercury offloading in two Central California elasmobranchs
AuthorsE. van Hees, D. Ebert
AbstractElasmobranchs occupy high trophic levels, accumulate high concentrations of mercury in their tissues, and have high energetic levels of maternal investment to offspring, which may cause embryos to be exposed in utero to harmful concentrations of mercury. We investigated the maternal transfer of mercury in two common coastal elasmobranch species, Triakis semifasciata and Platyrhinoidis triseriata, to determine which reproductive parameters may influence mercury offloading, and whether embryos are at risk to mercury toxicity. Mercury concentration was measured in female muscle, female liver, and embryonic tissues. The behavior of mercury in adult female tissues differed between species, as liver mercury concentration was significantly correlated to muscle mercury concentration in P. triseriata but not in T. semifasciata. Embryos of both species were found with potentially harmful mercury concentrations in their muscle tissues. Embryo mercury concentration increased with female muscle mercury concentration, but the relationship to female liver mercury was more variable. The rate of mercury transfer and overall offloading potential were significantly greater in P. triseriata than T. semifasciata. It appears that female mercury concentration, either in muscle or liver, is an important influencing factor for mercury offloading, but the impact of the differing reproductive modes in these two species was less clear. More study on this subject will continue to elucidate the factors influencing mercury offloading in sharks and rays, and how contaminant risk affects populations on a whole.
JournalScience of The Total Environment