MEPS 356:251-258 (2008)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07267

Brevetoxin in two planktivorous fishes after exposure to Karenia brevis: implications for food-web transfer to bottlenose dolphins

Michael Hinton, John S. Ramsdell*

Marine Biotoxins Program, Coastal Research Branch, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, NOAA-National Ocean Service, 219 Fort Johnson Road, Charleston, South Carolina 29412, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Brevetoxin uptake was analyzed in 2 common planktivorous fish that are likely food- web vectors for dolphin mortality events associated with brevetoxin-producing red tides. Fish were exposed to brevetoxin-producing Karenia brevis for 10 h under conditions previously reported to produce optimal uptake of toxin in blood after oral exposure. Striped mullet Mugil cephalus were exposed to a low dose of brevetoxin, and uptake and depuration by specific organs were evaluated over a 2 mo period. Atlantic menhaden Brevoortia tyrannus specimens were used to characterize a higher brevetoxin dose uptake into whole body components and evaluate depuration over 1 mo. We found a high uptake of toxin by menhaden, with a body to water ratio of 57 after a 10 h exposure and a slow elimination with a half life (t1/2) of 24 d. Elimination occurred rapidly from the intestine (t1/2 < 1 wk) and muscle (t1/2 ≈ 1 wk) compartments and redistributed to liver which continued to accumulate body stores of toxin for 4 wk. The accumulation and elimination characteristics of the vectoring capacity of these 2 fish species are interpreted in relation to data from the Florida Panhandle dolphin mortality event of 2004. We show that due to slow elimination rate of brevetoxin in planktivorous fish, brevetoxin-related dolphin mortality events may occur without evidence of a concurrent harmful algal bloom event.


KEY WORDS: Brevetoxin · Karenia brevis · Red tide · Menhaden · Mullet · Dolphin


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Cite this article as: Hinton M, Ramsdell JS (2008) Brevetoxin in two planktivorous fishes after exposure to Karenia brevis: implications for food-web transfer to bottlenose dolphins. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 356:251-258. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps07267

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