Bioaccumulation and depuration of metals in blue crabs (Callinectes sapidus Rathbun) from a contaminated and clean estuary

Environ Pollut. 2010 Feb;158(2):361-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2009.09.009. Epub 2009 Sep 26.


Blue crabs from a contaminated estuary (Hackensack Meadowlands-HM) and a cleaner reference site (Tuckerton-TK) were analyzed for Cr, Cu, Hg, Pb, and Zn in muscle and hepatopancreas. Crabs from each site were taken into the laboratory and fed food from the other site, or in another experiment, transplanted to the other site for eight weeks. All crabs were analyzed for metals. Overall, tissue concentrations reflected environmental conditions. Tissue differences were found for Cu, Pb and Zn (all higher in hepatopancreas), and Hg (higher in muscle). HM muscle had more Hg than TK muscle, but did not decrease after transplanting or consuming clean food. HM crabs lost Cu, Pb and Zn in hepatopancreas after being fed clean food or transplanted. TK crabs increased Hg in muscle and Cr and Zn in hepatopancreas after transplantation or being fed contaminated (HM) food. Concentrations were variable, suggesting that blue crabs may not be fully reliable bioindicators of polluted systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Brachyura / metabolism*
  • Environmental Pollutants / pharmacokinetics*
  • Geologic Sediments / analysis*
  • Hepatopancreas / chemistry
  • Male
  • Metals, Heavy / pharmacokinetics*
  • Muscles / chemistry
  • New Jersey
  • Seawater / chemistry*
  • Spectrophotometry, Atomic


  • Environmental Pollutants
  • Metals, Heavy