Mercury contamination in Canada's Bay of Fundy is a priority concern because of elevated levels observed in fish, birds and wildlife. Salt marshes constitute an important part of the Bay's coastline and are potential stores of mercury for the region. We measured the amount of mercury accumulated over a 5-yr period from 1997 to 2002 in surface sediments of seven salt marshes along the New Brunswick coast of the Bay. The seven study sites extended from outer to inner Bay, spanning a gradient in tidal range (6-12 m) and sediment characteristics such as %LOI (4-29%) and sediment deposition rate (0.27-1.76 cm yr(-1)). In each study site, mercury was measured in low and high marsh areas. Sediment mercury concentrations ranged from 7 to 79 ng g(-1) and loading rates ranged from 0.1 to 1.1 mg m(-2). Total estimated 5-yr storage of mercury in salt marsh sediments of the Bay is 854+/-465 kg. We also compared sediment mercury loading to atmospheric inputs measured at a deposition monitoring station operating in New Brunswick from 1997 to 2002 and found that direct atmospheric deposition appears to be a minor input of mercury to these sediments. We are unaware of documentation of mercury loading in salt marshes on a bay-wide scale and over a constrained (5-yr) time period elsewhere.
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