On August 29, researchers at the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) published an analysis of NOAA Mussel Watch Program contaminant monitoring data for mercury and methylmercury levels and distributions around the Gulf of Mexico. Data gathered from oyster and sediment samples from Texas to Florida revealed relatively elevated mercury concentrations (hotspots) in the Everglades and Tampa, Matagorda, and Florida Bays, fairly static levels in samples from Texas to Alabama, and decreasing levels in samples collected from the gulf coast of Florida.
While mercury levels identified in this study were below Food and Drug Administration action levels for seafood, the data provide ongoing contaminant status and trends information on mercury which remains important for natural resource managers who oversee recreational and commercial fisheries in the Gulf over time.
The NOAA Mussel Watch data analyzed in this study is available via the NOAA Status and Trends Data Portal. The study is available in the August 29, 2012 online issue of the Marine Pollution Bulletin.