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Open-File Report 2011–1056

Prepared in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A Comparison of Mercury Burdens between St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and St. Andrew Bay, Florida: Evaluation of Fish Body Burdens and Physiological Responses in Largemouth Bass, Spotted Seatrout, Striped Mullet, and Sunfish

By D.H. Huge, R.H. Rauschenberger, C.M. Wieser, and J.M. Hemming

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Musculature from the dorsal region of 130 largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), 140 sunfish (Lepomis sp.), 41 spotted seatrout (Cynoscion nebulosus) and 67 striped mullet (Mugil cephalus) were collected from five estuarine and five freshwater sites within the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and two estuarine and two freshwater sites from St. Andrew Bay, Florida, United States of America. Musculature was analyzed for total mercury content, sagittal otoliths were removed for age determination and physiological responses were measured. Largemouth bass and sunfish from the refuge had higher mercury concentrations in musculature than those from the bay. Male spotted seatrout, male striped mullet, male and female sunfish and female largemouth bass had mercury burdens positively correlated with length. The majority of all four species of fish from both study areas contained mercury levels below 1.5 part per million, the limit for safe consumption recommended the Florida Department of Health. In comparison, a significant percentage of largemouth bass and sunfish from several sampled sites, most notably Otter Lake and Lake Renfroe within St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, had mercury levels consistent with the health department's guidelines of "limited consumption" or "no consumption guidelines."

First posted March 28, 2011

For additional information contact:
D.H. Huge
U.S. Geological Survey
Southeast Ecological Science Center
7920 NW 71st Street
Gainesville, FL 32653

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Suggested citation:

Huge, D.H., and Rauschenberger, R.H., Wieser, C.M., and Hemming, J.M., 2011, A comparison of mercury burdens between St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge and St. Andrew Bay, Florida: Evaluation of fish body burdens and physiological responses in largemouth bass, spotted seatrout, striped mullet, and sunfish: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1056, 35 p.





Objectives and Hypotheses (Ho)


Sampling Locations and Fish Collection

Mercury Analyses

Statistical Analyses




References Cited

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