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Mercury concentrations in the Patagonian toothfish, Dissostichus eleginoides Smitt 1898, among three distinct stocks


Patagonian toothfish, Dissostichus eleginoides, collections (n = 186) from three distinct stocks (two subantarctic stocks and the stock within the Chilean ZEE) were analyzed for Hg concentration by DMA and comparisons were made by gender, total length (TL), wet weight (WW), and population. There was no difference between TL–WW relationships or Hg concentration by gender within any population across the range examined. The Chilean and Prince Edward Island fish had higher TL-adjusted total Hg concentration than those from the South Georgia and may suggest a possible human health risk. Explanation of these population differences in total Hg may be the actual sample areas and associated hydrogeographic and oceanographic conditions. For example, sampling sites for the Chilean fish lie well outside the Antarctic Convergence whereas the Prince Edward sites straddle the Convergence. The samples obtained from South Georgia lie well within the Antarctic convergence, suggesting that the Polar Front may provide some type of hydrographic barrier as has been shown for this species in terms of larval dispersal and feeding.

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This research was used, in part, to fulfill the requirements of a Masters degree in Coastal Sciences at The University of Southern Mississippi by the senior author. We thank B. H. Comyns and K. S. Dillon who served on the thesis committee of the senior author. We would like to thank the observers and crew on board the Argos Helena and the South Princess for the collection of samples and to Chris Heinechen with Capricorn Fisheries Monitoring for coordinating the sampling with their observers. We would also like to express our gratitude to Barry Watkins with South Africa’s Marine and Coastal Management and James Moir Clark with MRGA Ltd. for their efforts in the collection process as well. Many thanks to Claudio Bernal with IFOP for supplying samples from the Chilean artesanal fleet and to the US Antarctic Program, National Science Foundation for assisting in transporting these samples to the US.

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Correspondence to Kim Dawson Guynn.

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Guynn, K.D., Peterson, M.S. Mercury concentrations in the Patagonian toothfish, Dissostichus eleginoides Smitt 1898, among three distinct stocks. Polar Biol 31, 269–274 (2008).

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  • Antarctica
  • Mercury
  • Patagonian toothfish