A Survey of Size-Specific Mercury Concentrations in Game Fish from Maryland Fresh and Estuarine Waters

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Abstract

A survey of size-specific mercury (Hg) concentrations in game fish from a subset of Maryland fresh and estuarine waters was conducted, in which Hg concentrations in 112 fish from seven freshwater impoundments and three tidal and four estuarine locations in Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries were measured. Striped bass (Morone saxatilis) was the most intensively examined species. Of the fish examined, the largest freshwater sportfish contained the highest Hg concentrations. Striped bass and largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides) from Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries contained less Hg at the same size than the same species in fresh waters. Large striped bass, chain pickerel (Esox niger), and walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) from Deep Creek Lake and Liberty Reservoir exceeded the FDA action level of 1 mg Hg/kg. Striped bass, largemouth bass, and white crappie (Pomoxis annularis) in other impoundments equaled or exceeded a common advisory level of 0.5 mg Hg/kg. Large differences in size-normalized Hg concentrations among lakes and particularly between fresh and salt waters highlight the large differences in MeHg production and bioaccumulation among ecosystems. This work indicates that a more comprehensive study of Hg in Maryland fish is warranted to protect human and wildlife health.

Received: 16 November 1999/Accepted: 28 December 1999