Mercury Bioaccumulation in Tropical Mangrove Wetland Fishes: Evaluating Potential Risk to Coastal Wildlife

  • Dung Quang Le
  • Behara Satyanarayana
  • Siau Yin Fui
  • Kotaro Shirai


The present study, aimed at observing the total concentration of mercury (Hg) in edible finfish species with an implication to human health risk, was carried out from the Setiu mangrove wetlands on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Out of 20 species observed, the highest Hg concentrations were found among carnivores-fish/invertebrate-feeders, followed by omnivores and carnivores-invertebrate-feeders, while the lowest concentrations in herbivores. The Hg concentrations varied widely with fish species and body size, from 0.12 to 2.10 mg/kg dry weight. A positive relationship between body weight and Hg concentration was observed in particular for Toxotes jaculatrix and Tetraodon nigroviridis. Besides the permissible range of Hg concentration up to 0.3 mg/kg (cf. United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA)) in majority of species, the carnivore feeders such as Acanthopagrus pacificus, Gerres filamentosus, and Caranx ignobilis have shown excess amounts (> 0.40 mg/kg flesh weight) that raising concerns over the consumption by local people. However, the weekly intake of mercury—estimated through the fish consumption in all three trophic levels—suggests that the present Hg concentrations are still within the range of Provisional Tolerable Weekly Intake (PTWI) reported by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Perhaps, a multi-species design for Hg monitoring at Setiu wetlands would be able to provide further insights into the level of toxicity transfer among other aquatic organisms and thereby a strong health risk assessment for the local communities.


Consumption Wild fish Health risk Setiu wetland 



The authors are grateful to staffs in the University Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) for their kind assistance in field work.

Funding Information

This work was supported by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia, under the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) project number FRGS/1/2016/WAB09/UMT/02/5 (No. 59425).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The study was approved by the Ethical Biosecurity Committee in Institute of Oceanography and Environment, UMT. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of UMT.


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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Oceanography and EnvironmentUniversiti Malaysia TerengganuKuala TerengganuMalaysia
  2. 2.Atmosphere and Ocean Research InstituteThe University of TokyoKashiwashiJapan

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