Skip to main content

Total Mercury in Six Antarctic Notothenioid Fishes


We analyzed white muscle samples from six species of Antarctic fish (suborder Notothenioidei) collected in 2011 from McMurdo Sound, Ross Sea, Antarctica, to assess levels of total mercury (THg). Gymnodraco acuticeps and Trematomus bernacchii exhibited the highest concentrations of THg followed by Trematomus pennellii, Trematomus nicolai, Trematomus newnesi and Pagothenia borchgrevinki, (71.3, 53.9 ± 32.1, 45.8 ± 27.3, 37.2 ± 18.6, 35.7 ± 23.6, and 21.9 ± 2.8 ng/g wet weight, respectively). The results from this study suggest that THg has the potential to bioaccumulate from various marine Antarctic ecosystems into biota.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2


  1. Alam MGM, Tanaka A, Allinson G, Laurenson LJB, Stagnitti F, Snow ET (2002) A comparison of trace element concentrations in cultured and wild carp (Cyprinus carpio) of Lake Kasumigaura, Japan. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 53(3):348–354

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Aronson RB, Thatje S, McClintock JB, Hughes KA (2011) Anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems. Ann NY Acad Sci 1223:82–107

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bargagli R (2006) Antarctic ecosystems: environmental contamination, climate change, and human impact. Springer, Berlin

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bargagli R, Monaci F, Sanchez-Hernandez JC, Cateni D (1998) Biomagnification of mercury in an Antarctic marine coastal food web. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 169:65–76

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Blus LJ (2011) DDT, DDD, and DDE in Birds. In: Beyer WN, Meador JP (eds) Environmental contaminants in biota: interpreting tissue concentrations, 2nd edn. CRC Press, New York, pp 425–446

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  6. Bogillo V, Bazylevska M (2008) Variations of organochlorine contaminants in Antarctica. In: The fate of persistent organic pollutants in the environment. NATO Science for Peace and Security Series. Springer, Netherlands, pp 251–267

  7. DeWitt HH, Heemstra PC, Gon O (1990) Nototheniidae. In: Gon O, Heemstra PC (eds) Fishes of the Southern Ocean. J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology, Grahamstown, pp 279–331

    Google Scholar 

  8. Eastman JT, McCune AR (2000) Fishes on the Antarctic continental shelf: evolution of a marine species flock? J Fish Biol 57:84–102

    Google Scholar 

  9. EPA (1999) The national survey of mercury concentrations in fish: data base summary 1990–1995. EPA-823-R-99-014. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  10. Focardi S, Lari L, Marsili L (1992) PCB congeners, DDT’s and hexachlorobenzene in Antarctic fish from Terra Nova Bay (Ross Sea). Antarct Sci 4(2):151–154

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Geisz HN, Dickhut RM, Cochran MA, Fraser WR, Ducklow HW (2008) Melting glaciers: a probable source of DDT to the Antarctic marine ecosystem. Environ Sci Technol 42:3958–3962

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Gloss SP, Grieb TM, Driscoll CT, Schofield CL, Baker JP, Landers D et al (1990) Mercury levels in fish from the upper peninsula of Michigan (ELS subregion 2B) in relation to lake acidity. EPA-600/3–90–068. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  13. Gon O (1990) Bathydraconidae. P. 364–380. In: Gon O, Heemstra PC (eds) Fishes of the Southern Ocean. J.L.B. Smith Institute of Ichthyology, Grahamstown, p 462

    Google Scholar 

  14. Halpern BS, Walbridge S, Selkoe KA, Kappel CV, Micheli F, D’Agrosa C, Bruno JF, Casey KS, Ebert C, Fox HE, Fujita R, Heinemann D, Lenihan HS, Madin EMP, Perry MT, Selig ER, Spalding M, Steneck R, Watson R (2008) A global map of human impact on marine ecosystems. Science 319:948–952

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Honda K, Yamamoto Y, Tatsukawa R (1987) Distribution of heavy metals in Antarctic marine ecosystem. Polar Biol 1:184–187

    Google Scholar 

  16. La Mesa M, Eastman JT, Vacchi M (2004) The role of notothenioid fish in the food web of the Ross Sea shelf waters: a review. Polar Biol 27:321–338

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Maggi C, Berducci MT, Bianchi J, Giani M, Campanella L (2009) Methylmercury determination in marine sediment and organisms by direct mercury analyser. Anal Chim Acta 641:32–36

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Moore CW, Obrist D, Steffen A, Staebler RM, Douglas TA, Richter A, Nghiem SV (2014) Convective forcing of mercury and ozone in the Arctic boundary layer induced by leads in sea ice. Nature 506:81–84

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Seelye JG, Hasselberg RJ, Mac MJ (1982) Accumulation by fish of contaminants released from dredged sediments. Environ Sci Technol 16:459–464

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. United States Environmental Protection Agency (1999) Method 1631, revision B: mercury in water by oxidation, purge and trap, and cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectrometry. EPA-821-R-99–005. Office of Water, Washington, DC

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Nathan J. P. Wintle.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wintle, N.J.P., Sleadd, I.M., Gundersen, D.T. et al. Total Mercury in Six Antarctic Notothenioid Fishes. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 95, 557–560 (2015).

Download citation


  • Antarctic fish
  • Notothenioidei
  • Mercury
  • Bioaccumulation