, Volume 30, Issue 1, pp 37-46
Date: 26 Apr 2005

Impaired larval development in broods of eelpout (Zoarces viviparus) in Danish coastal waters

Abstract

Eelpouts (Zoarces viviparus), a viviparous fish, were sampled in Danish coastal waters during October and November 2001 and 2002, in ten different areas, which are receiving effluents from cities and industry to more or minor degree. The presence of gross abnormalities in eelpout broods has been suggested to be a useful biomarker of the impact of hazardous substances on fish reproduction in the marine environment as chronic exposure to various substances has the potential to induce severe developmental defects in fish embryos and larvae. Relatively high frequencies of female eelpouts (20–53) with elevated levels (>5) of larvae with developmental defects in the broods were found in four shallow fjords with effluents from larger cities and industry compared to areas. Deformations like spiral or bend shapes of the spinal axis, cranio-facial defects, eye lesions or loss of eyes were the dominating types. In some of␣the areas with the highest incidences of developmental defects, the adults had significantly enlarged livers, which may also be a possible effect caused by contaminant exposure. In two of the areas, relatively high frequencies of the broods contained larvae, which had died late but without any visible developmental defects. These two areas were affected by severe oxygen depletion prior to sampling time suggesting that examination of broods in the eelpout may include not only impact of hazardous substances but also effect of eutrophication-related problems on fish reproduction in the marine environment.