MEPS 224:207-217 (2001)  -  doi:10.3354/meps224207

Cadmium accumulation in the snow crab Chionoecetes opilio

Claude Rouleau1,*, Charles Gobeil1, Hans Tjälve2

1Institut Maurice-Lamontagne, Ministère des Pêches et Océans, CP 1000, 850 Route de la Mer, Mont-Joli, Québec G5H 3Z4, Canada
2Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Biomedicum Box 573, 751 23 Uppsala, Sweden
*Present address: National Water Research Institute, Aquatic Ecosystem Protection Research Branch, 867 Lakeshore Road, PO Box 5050, Burlington, Ontario L7R 4A6, Canada. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: The aim of this work is to evaluate the significance of Cd uptake via food in the snow crab Chionoecetes opilio. We used in vivo gamma counting to measure the retention efficiency of a single dietary dose of 109Cd(II) and follow elimination kinetics of the metal retained over a 5 mo period. Whole-body autoradiography was used to determine the fine-scale tissue distribution. The biological half-life of Cd retained in the body after the first 15 d, which represented 26 to 52% of the ingested dose, ranged from 141 to 346 d. Whole-body autoradiography showed that 109Cd was distributed to all the tissues, highest concentrations being found in the hepatopancreas and gut, followed in decreasing order by antennal glands ≥ hemolymph > gonads > gills ≈ hypodermis ≈ muscle > eye. We used these data and a reasonable estimate of Cd levels in benthic organisms of lower trophic levels living in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence to model the lon uptake of Cd in snow crab. Predicted concentrations in hepatopancreas and muscle agreed quite well with field data (predicted range 13.0 to 39.2 nmolCd g-1 and field range 3.5 to 24.1 nmolCd g-1 for hepatopancreas; predicted range 0.20 to 1.33 nmolCd g-1 and field range 0.52 to 2.03 nmolCd g-1 in muscle). The similarity between experimentally based predictions and field data strongly suggests that diet is a major transfer route of Cd towards snow crab in the St. Lawrence.


KEY WORDS: Uptake · Food · Snow crab · Cadmium · Pharmacokinetics · Distribution · Whole-body autoradiography · In vivo gamma counting


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