High-density element concentrations in fish from subtidal to hadal zones of the Pacific Ocean

Elsevier, Heliyon, Volume 4, October 2018
Welty C.J., Sousa M.L., Dunnivant F.M., Yancey P.H.

Anthropogenic use of high density, toxic elements results in marine pollution which is bio-accumulating throughout marine food webs. While there have been several studies in various locations analyzing such elements in fish, few have investigated patterns in these elements and their isotopes in terms of ocean depth, and none have studied the greatest depth zones. We used a flame atomic absorption spectrophotometer-hydride system and an inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer to determine concentrations of the high-density elements arsenic (As), cadmium (Cd), chromium (Cr), cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), lead (Pb), mercury (Hg), nickel (Ni), selenium (Se), plus the light-metal barium (Ba), in fish ranging from bathyal (1000 m in Monterey Bay) to upper hadal zones (6500–7626 m in the Kermadec and Mariana Trenches) in the Pacific Ocean. Five species of fish—including the Mariana Trench snailfish, the world's deepest known fish newly discovered—were analyzed for patterns in total element concentration, depth of occurrence, Se:Hg ratio, plus mercury isotopes in the deepest species. Co and As levels decreased with depth. In the Mariana Trench, Pb, Hg, Cd, and Cu were higher than in all other samples, and higher in those plus Ba than in the Kermadec Trench. The latter samples had far higher Ni and Cr levels than all others. Mercury relative isotope analysis showed no depth trends in the deepest species. Se:Hg showed a large molar excess of Se in bathyal flatfish species. These patterns indicate that exposures to pollutants differ greatly between habitats including trenches of similar depths.