Mercury Levels in Marine and Estuarine Fishes of Florida

Because mercury, a toxic metallic element, has been shown to bioaccumulate in fish tissue, humans consuming fish can potentially consume significant levels of mercury. Limited information is available on mercury levels in Floridaís marine and estuarine fish species.We examined the concentration of mercury in 2,832 fish representing 81 species from 32 families. Species represented all major trophic groups, from primary consumers to apex predators. Mercury concentrations in individual fish varied greatly within and among species.However, the majority of individuals we examined contained low concentrations. Species with very low mean or median mercury concentrations tended to be planktivores, detritivores, species that feed on invertebrates, or species that feed on benthic invertebrates and small fish. Apex predators typically had the highest mercury concentrations. In most species, mercury concentration increased as fish size increased. Sampling in Florida waters is continuing, and future research relating mercury levels to fish age, feeding ecology, and the trophic structure of Floridaís marine and estuarine ecosystems will help us to further identify important sources of variation.

Publisher - Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC)

Subjects - Chemical, Mercury; Water, Marine; Water, Estuarine

Citation: Adams DH, McMichael Jr RH. 2001. Mercury Levels in Marine and Estuarine Fishes of Florida. St. Petersburg (FL): Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI); FMRI Technical Report TR-6. 41 pp