Figure 2. YOY Winter Flounder suffered significantly higher mortality when held
on Elizabeth River sediment compared with York River sediment.
10% Elizabeth R
50% Elizabeth R
100% Elizabeth R
Fraction Surviving 7-9 Day Exposure
Effects of sediment contaminants on winter flounder in estuaries
along the east coast of the United States
Sediments in estuaries near industrialized areas along the east coast of the United States, such as Chesapeake,
Raritan, and Newark Bays, are contaminated with an array of anthropogenic compounds including PCBs, PAHs
and pesticides. Young-of-the-year winter flounder (Pseudopleuronectes americanus) that settle on contaminated
sediments risk both sub-lethal and lethal effects. Accumulation of these compounds through respiration, ingestion,
and transdermal uptake has the potential to alter behavior and reduce the ability of fish to perform essential
ecological functions. In controlled experiments using both wild-caught and laboratory-reared fish, we examined
survival, behavioral responses, and contaminant accumulation by winter flounder (20-30 mm SL) that were
exposed to sediments for 7 to 14 days.
Fish held on sediment from Elizabeth River, Virginia displayed significantly
higher mortality and higher predation by common or sand shrimp (Crangon crangon) than fish held on (relatively)
uncontaminated York River, Virginia sediment. Fish held on Newark Bay, New Jersey sediment had a decreased
ability to exploit an available food resource (Artemia sp. nauplii). Alteration of such essential behaviors is
expected to reduce growth, increase susceptibility to predation,
and limit long-term viability of a local population.
Ongoing work seeks to determine variation among life history stages.
Sediment Collection & Sites
Sediments were collected with a small grab (Petite Ponar
grab box size is 15 x 15 cm screen mesh 500 microns) in August of 2005