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Deep impact? Is mercury in dab (Limanda limanda) a marker for dumped munition? Results from munition dump site Kolberger Heide (Baltic Sea)

Dumped munitions contain various harmful substances which can affect marine biota like fish. One of them is mercury (Hg), included in the common explosive primer Hg fulminate. There is still a lack of knowledge whether dumped munitions impact the Hg concentrations in the Baltic Sea environment. This study aims to answer the question if dab caught at the dump site Kolberger Heide show higher Hg concentrations released from munition sources and whether Hg in fish is a usable marker for munition exposure. Therefore, a total of 251 individual dab (Limanda limanda) were analysed including 99 fish from the dump site. In fish from the Kolberger Heide, no elevated Hg concentrations were found compared to reference sites when age-dependent bioaccumulation of mercury was considered. Therefore we conclude that Hg in fish is no suitable indicator for exposure to munition dumping, e.g. in the frame of possible future monitoring studies as Hg exposure originating from dumped munition is only a small contributor to overall Hg exposure of fish.

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