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Warmer oceans could raise mercury levels in fish

Date:
October 3, 2013
Source:
Dartmouth College
Summary:
Rising ocean surface temperatures caused by climate change could make fish accumulate more mercury, increasing the health risk to people who eat seafood, researchers report.

Dartmouth and other researchers studied killifish under varying temperatures in the lab and in salt marsh pools in Maine.
Credit: NOAA

Rising ocean surface temperatures caused by climate change could make fish accumulate more mercury, increasing the health risk to people who eat seafood, Dartmouth researchers and their colleagues report in a study in the journal PLOS ONE.

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Until now, little has been known about how global warming may affect mercury bioaccumulation in marine life, and no previous study has demonstrated the effects using fish in both laboratory and field experiments. Mercury released into the air through industrial pollution can accumulate in streams and oceans and is turned into methylmercury in the water.

The researchers studied killifish under varying temperatures in the lab and in salt marsh pools in Maine. Fish in the marshes ate insects, worms and other natural food sources, while the lab fish were fed mercury-enriched food. Results showed the fish in warmer waters ate more but grew less and had higher methylmercury levels in their tissues, suggesting increases in their metabolic rate caused the increased uptake of the toxic metal.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dartmouth College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jennifer A. Dijkstra, Kate L. Buckman, Darren Ward, David W. Evans, Michele Dionne, Celia Y. Chen. Experimental and Natural Warming Elevates Mercury Concentrations in Estuarine Fish. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (3): e58401 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058401

Cite This Page:

Dartmouth College. "Warmer oceans could raise mercury levels in fish." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003162953.htm>.
Dartmouth College. (2013, October 3). Warmer oceans could raise mercury levels in fish. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003162953.htm
Dartmouth College. "Warmer oceans could raise mercury levels in fish." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131003162953.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

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