Warmer waters, more mercury?

Researchers find link between warmer water temperature and increase in mercury in fish

Warming water temperatures due to climate change have been fingered by scientists as a cause of rising levels of mercury in fish.

In an experiment involving killifish—a small forage fish living off the coast of Maine—researchers discovered that raising water temperature resulted in a rise in the species’ metabolism and appetite, according to an article in The Washington Post. Their increased appetite corresponded with a higher-than-usual storage of methylmercury from their food sources in their body tissue.

“[K]illifish at the bottom of the food chain will probably absorb higher levels of methylmercury in an era of global warming and pass it on to larger predator fish, such as the tuna stacked in shiny little cans in the cupboards of Americans and other people the world over,” the article said.

Methylmercury has been linked to heart attacks, high blood pressure and kidney disease in adults, and neurobehavioral delays in children.