Species-specific accumulation of methyl and total mercury in sharks from offshore and coastal waters of Korea

  • Kim S
  • Lee H
  • Badejo A
 et al. 
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Limited information is available on mercury (Hg) levels in various shark species consumed in Korea. The methyl-Hg (Me-Hg) and total Hg concentrations in all shark species ranged from 0.08 to 4.5 (mean: 1.2) mg/kg wet weight and from 0.1 to 7.0 (mean: 1.4) mg/kg wet weight, respectively. Inter-species differences in Hg accumulation were found among the species; however, Hg accumulation was homogenous between dorsal and pectoral fins within species. The highest Hg levels were found in aggressive carnivore shark species. Trophic position was important in determining Hg accumulation for aggressive carnivore sharks. Approximately 80% of shark species exceeded the safety limits for Me-Hg established by domestic and international authorities. The mean estimated daily intake of Me-Hg (1.3 μg/kg body weight/day) for Korean populations consuming various sharks was higher than the guidelines proposed by international regulatory authorities, suggesting that excessive shark fin consumption may pose potential health risks for Koreans.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Feeding habit
  • Mercury
  • Methyl mercury
  • Safety limit
  • Shark
  • Trophic position

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