SPATIAL AND TEMPORAL VARIATION IN MERCURY BIOACCUMULATION OF A COMMONLY CONSUMED FRESHWATER FISH REDBREAST SUNFISH (<i>Lepomis auritus</i>)
Parker Hutcheon, Fallon Chambers
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Spatial and temporal patterns of mercury (Hg) concentrations were analyzed in tissue samples of redbreast sunfish (<i>Lepomis auritus</i>) and bluegill sunfish (<i>Lepomis macrochirus</i>) from the Congaree River, Columbia, SC, and the Edisto River Basin, SC. Mercury concentrations in this study varied from 0.02-0.65 ppm with a mean of 0.14 ± 0.10 parts per million (ppm) for redbreast sunfish. Mercury concentrations for bluegill ranged from 0.03-0.70 ppm with a mean of 0.17 ± 0.12 ppm. Positive correlations were found for Hg concentrations and length, age, and weight in redbreast sunfish and bluegill sunfish in the Congaree River. There was no significant difference in Hg concentrations between redbreast sunfish and bluegill sunfish in the Congaree River. Mercury concentrations in redbreast sunfish were found to be higher in the Edisto River than the Congaree River system. Redbreast sunfish collected from the Congaree River system after the October 2015 major flooding event were found to have higher Hg concentrations than individuals collected before the flooding event. These findings support evidence that these species in the Congaree are generally safe for consumption, but many in the Edisto exceed recommended advisories.