Species- and size-specific variability of mercury concentrations in four commercially important finfish and their prey from the northwest Atlantic
Marine Pollution Bulletin
Total mercury was analyzed as a function of body length, season, and diet in four commercially and recreationally important marine fish, bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix), goosefish (Lophius americanus), silver hake (Merluccius bilinearis), and summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus), collected from continental shelf waters of the northwest Atlantic Ocean. Mercury levels in the dorsal muscle tissue of 115 individuals ranged from 0.006 to 1.217 μg/g (wet weight) and varied significantly among species. The relationship between predator length and mercury concentration was linear for bluefish and summer flounder, while mercury levels increased with size at an exponential rate for silver hake and goosefish. Mercury burdens were the highest overall in bluefish, but increased with size at the greatest rate in silver hake. Seasonal differences were detected for bluefish and goosefish with mercury levels peaking during summer and spring, respectively. Prey mercury burdens and predator foraging habits are discussed as the primary factors influencing mercury accumulation.