Trophodynamics and mercury bioaccumulation in reef and open-ocean fishes from The Bahamas with a focus on two teleost predators

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© Inter-Research 2019. Identifying prey resource pools supporting fish biomass can elucidate trophic pathways of pollutant bioaccumulation. We used multiple chemical tracers (carbon [δ 13 C] and nitrogen [δ 15 N] stable isotopes and total mercury [THg]) to identify trophic pathways and measure contaminant loading in upper trophic level fishes residing at a reef and open-ocean interface near Eleuthera in the Exuma Sound, The Bahamas. We focused predominantly on the trophic pathways of mercury bioaccumulation in dolphinfish Coryphaena hippurus and wahoo Acanthocybium solandri, 2 commonly consumed pelagic sportfish in the region. Despite residing within close proximity to productive and extensive coral reefs, both dolphinfish and wahoo relied almost exclusively on open-ocean prey over both short and long temporal durations. A larger isotopic niche of dolphinfish suggested a broader diet and some potential prey differentiation between the 2 species. THg concentrations in dolphinfish (0.2 ± 0.1 ppm) and wahoo (0.3 ± 0.3 ppm) were mostly below recommended guidelines for humans (US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) = 0.3 ppm, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)= 1.0 ppm) and were within ranges previously reported for these species. However, high THg concentrations were observed in muscle and liver tissue of commonly consumed reef-associated fishes, identifying a previously unrecognized route of potentially toxic Hg exposure for human consumers on Eleuthera and neighboring islands.

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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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