HRI Science Seminar Series - "Mercury Accumulation in Fish and Shellfish from the Northern Gulf of Mexico"

February 7, 2020
10:30 am
February 7, 2020
12:00 pm
Harte Research Institute
Conference Center 127
6300 Ocean Drive, Corpus Christi, TX 78412

Dr. Jessica Dutton
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Texas State University

Mercury (Hg) is a pervasive global pollutant that is well known to bioaccumulate in marine organisms and biomagnify in marine food webs, so top predators including tunas, swordfish, and sharks have the highest tissue concentrations. In the Gulf of Mexico, certain fish species (e.g., king mackerel, golden tilefish) have higher Hg concentrations than conspecifics in the Atlantic Ocean. Humans are predominantly exposed to Hg through seafood consumption and chronic exposure can result in deleterious neurological and cardiovascular health effects. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for a significant portion of the U.S. commercial and recreational fisheries catch and all 5 states that border the Gulf have issued Hg advisories due to elevated Hg concentrations in certain species. This seminar will discuss Hg concentrations in shellfish (e.g., oysters, shrimp, blue crab), bay fishes (e.g., red drum, spotted seatrout, southern flounder), offshore pelagic fishes (e.g., dolphinfish, king mackerel, tunas, blue marlin) and sharks (e.g., mako, blacktip, bull) caught along the Texas coast in relation to biological variables (body length, trophic position, and maternal transfer). Finally, Hg concentrations will be discussed in relation to state and federal Hg advisory levels to understand how to reduce the risk of Hg exposure through seafood consumption.

Jess is a marine toxicologist in the Biology Department at Texas State University. Her research focuses on the accumulation of trace elements, particularly mercury, in fish, shellfish, and cetaceans in the Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Caribbean and the risk to human health from consuming contaminated seafood.  Born in England, Jess completed her B.Sc. in Marine Biology from Swansea University and moved to New York. After completing a M.A. in Geology from Queens College and Ph.D. in Marine and Atmospheric Sciences from Stony Brook University she held a faculty position at Adelphi University prior to moving to Texas in 2015.