Mercury Concentrations in Sentinel Fish Exposed to Contaminated Sediments Under a Natural Recovery Strategy Within the St. Lawrence River Area of Concern at Cornwall, Ontario, Canada

  • Dominique LapointeEmail author
  • Jeffrey J. Ridal


Legacy mercury (Hg) sediment deposits are a long-term issue within the St. Lawrence River (Cornwall) area of concern with three depositional areas along the Cornwall, ON waterfront containing sediments that exceed the Ontario Sediment Quality Guidelines for Hg. Assessing the bioavailability of these Hg-contaminated sediments plays a crucial role in evaluating the effectiveness of the Cornwall Sediment Strategy based on a natural recovery approach. We collected specimens of fallfish (Semotilus corporalis), round goby (Neogobius melanostomus), and yellow perch (Perca flavescens) to assess spatial and temporal trends of Hg concentrations in various areas along the Cornwall waterfront, including zones of contaminated sediments and non-contaminated reference sites. This study revealed that (1) Hg concentrations in fish collected from the contaminated zones remain greater than those of fish from non-impacted locations, indicating that natural recovery is not yet achieved, (2) total Hg concentrations in yellow perch collected in 2016 were greater than those obtained during a previous assessment, indicating a reversal of the previously observed long-term declines, and (3) total Hg concentrations in yellow perch collected at the outlet of Gray’s Creek compared with yellow perch from contaminated zones, suggesting other important inputs of Hg to the ecosystem than the legacy contaminated sediments.



The authors are grateful to M. Windle, E. Hickey, D. Roundpoint, T. Sunday, K. Schwartz, J. Lounsberry, J. Baker, J. Filion, and P. Kraska for their help with the fish collections. The authors also thank E. Hickey and M. Waller for their assistance with sample preparation for the mercury and stable isotope analyses, respectively, as well as E. Yumvihoze and the Poulain laboratory at the University of Ottawa for the mercury analyses. Stable isotope analyses were performed by the GG Hatch Stable Isotope Laboratory at the University of Ottawa. This project has received funding support from the Governments of Canada and Ontario. Such support does not indicate endorsement by the Governments of Canada and Ontario of the contents of this material. Funding to the River Institute from a private foundation in the support of DL is gratefully acknowledged.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St. Lawrence River Institute of Environmental SciencesCornwallCanada
  2. 2.Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des ParcsQuébecCanada

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