Elevated concentrations of mercury in mussels (Mytilus californianus) associated with pinniped colonies

Research paper by A. R. Flegal, M. Stephenson, M. Martin, J. H. Martin

Indexed on: 01 Nov '81Published on: 01 Nov '81Published in: Marine Biology


The geographic distribution of mercury concentrations in the California mussel Mytilus californianus, collected from 1977–1978 at 43 sites along the western coastline of the continental United States is marked by consistently elevated levels at two locations. These two sites, which are relatively isolated from anthropogenic inputs and mercuryrich minerals, both contain large pinniped and marine bird populations. The relatively elevated mercury levels measured in the excrement of a pinniped from one of those locales indicate that the concentrated discharge of mercuryrich waste products from the marine ecosystem's top carnivores is contaminating lower trophic levels.