Mercury Concentrations in Recent and Ninety-Year-Old Benthopelagic Fish

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Science  10 Nov 1972:
Vol. 178, Issue 4061, pp. 636-639
DOI: 10.1126/science.178.4061.636


Several species of bottom-dwelling fish from 2500 meters with similar feeding habits had mercury concentrations that differed by an order of magnitude. Within one species there was a correlation between size and concentration, with the larger individuals having mercury concentrations as high as 0.8 part per million (wet weight). The mercury content of the water in the deep-ocean habitat of these fish appears not to determine the mercury content of a particular fish; species-specific factors and size do appear to determine this concentration. The species-specific variation between the recent fish also existed between the same two species in specimens collected 90 years ago from a depth of 2000 meters, and a 90-year-old specimen fit closely the size-concentration regression curve for nine recent individuals of the same species.