Detection of numerous phycotoxins in young bull sharks

Published on
20 October 2022

Detection of numerous phycotoxins in young bull sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) collected from an estuary of national significance

Michelle L.Edwards, Adam M. Schaefer, Malcolm McFarland, Spencer Fire, Christopher R. Perkins, Matthew J. Ajemian


Florida’s Indian River Lagoon (IRL) has experienced large-scale, frequent blooms of toxic harmful algae in recent decades. Sentinel, or indicator, species can provide an integrated picture of contaminants in the environment and may be useful to understanding phycotoxin prevalence in the IRL. This study evaluated the presence of phycotoxins in the IRL ecosystem by using the bull shark (Carcharhinus leucas) as a sentinel species. Concentrations of phycotoxins were measured in samples collected from 50 immature bull sharks captured in the IRL between 2018 and 2020. Ultra-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry was used to measure toxins in shark gut contents, plasma, and liver. Analysis of samples (n = 123) demonstrated the presence of multiple phycotoxins (microcystin, nodularin, teleocidin, cylindrospermopsin, domoic acid, okadaic acid, and brevetoxin) in 82 % of sampled bull sharks. However, most detected toxins were in low prevalence (≤25 % of samples, per sample type). This study provides valuable baseline information on presence of multiple phycotoxins in a species occupying a high trophic position in this estuary of national significance.

Science of The Total Environment, Volume 857, Part 3, DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.159602


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