Mercury in the marine food chain in the Southern Ocean at Macquarie Island: an analysis of a top predator, Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) and a mid-trophic species, the warty squid (Moroteuthis ingens)
McArthur, TA and Butler, ECV and Jackson, GD, Mercury in the marine food chain in the Southern Ocean at Macquarie Island: an analysis of a top predator, Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) and a mid-trophic species, the warty squid (Moroteuthis ingens), Polar Biology, 27, (1) pp. 1-5. ISSN 0722-4060 (2003) [Refereed Article]
The characteristics and habitat of the Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides) are typical of fish that accumulate high concentrations of mercury. In this study, mercury determinations were made on samples of muscle tissue from Macquarie Island toothfish and the Southern Ocean deepwater warty squid (Moroteuthis ingens). The analysis of mercury in the biological tissues was made by cold vapour-atomic absorption spectrometry following acid digestion. Performance of the analytical procedure was assessed by analysis of certified reference material (DORM-2, dogfish muscle). Mercury concentrations of 16 Macquarie Island toothfish ranged from 0.12 mg kg-1 (550 g, 381 mm TL) to 0.59 mg kg-1 (6,100 g, 823 mm TL), with a mean concentration of 0.33±0.12 mg kg-1. A significant correlation was found between mercury and either toothfish weight or total length. The fish analysed were juveniles, which suggests that larger individuals would have higher mercury concentrations well exceeding food standard code limits for mercury in fish (typically 0.5 mg kg-1). Warty squid, also from around Macquarie Island, had a low mean mercury concentration of 0.086 mg kg -1 in mantle tissue; no significant correlation existed between mercury concentration and either squid mantle length or total weight. It is postulated that the squid have a mechanism, possibly involving the digestive gland, that prevents bioaccumulation of mercury in the mantle, and presumably other body tissues.