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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 608:221-232 (2019)  -  DOI:

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

Oliver N. Shipley1,*, Cheng-Shiuan Lee1, Nicholas S. Fisher1, Georgiana Burruss2, Michael G. Frisk1, Edward J. Brooks3, Zachary C. Zuckerman4, Achim D. Herrmann5, Daniel J. Madigan1,6

1School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, 100 Nicholls Road, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA
2Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
3The Cape Eleuthera Institute, PO Box EL-26029 Cape Eleuthera, The Bahamas
4Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Grand Isle, LA 70358, USA
5Department of Geology and Geophysics, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA
6Gulf of California International Research Center, Santa Rosalía, BCS 23920, Mexico
Corrresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Identifying prey resource pools supporting fish biomass can elucidate trophic pathways of pollutant bioaccumulation. We used multiple chemical tracers (carbon [δ13C] and nitrogen [δ15N] 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.

KEY WORDS: Stable isotope analysis · Contaminant loading · Dolphinfish · Wahoo · The Bahamas

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Cite this article as: Shipley ON, Lee CS, Fisher NS, Burruss G and others (2019) Trophodynamics and mercury bioaccumulation in reef and open-ocean fishes from The Bahamas with a focus on two teleost predators. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 608:221-232.

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