Integration of multi-tissue PAH and PCB burdens with biomarker activity in three coastal shark species from the northwestern Gulf of Mexico


Tissue-based burdens of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were integrated with ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) and glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzyme activity in bull (Carcharhinus leucas), blacktip (Carcharhinus limbatus), and bonnethead (Sphyrna tiburo) sharks from Galveston Bay, TX. The potential toxicity of these burdens was evaluated by calculation of toxic equivalents (TEQs). Concentrations of total PAHs ($\Sigma$PAHs) were significantly greater in blacktip and bonnethead sharks than bull sharks in liver, but did not exhibit differences in muscle among species. Hepatic concentrations of $\Sigma$PAHs in these sharks (range of means 1560–2200 ng/g wet wt.) were greater than concentrations previously reported in oysters from Galveston Bay (range of means 134–333 ng/g dry wt.), which suggests that trophic dilution of PAHs may not be reflected in sharks. Total PCBs ($\Sigma$PCBs) were significantly greatest in bull sharks and lowest in bonnetheads, while blacktips were intermediate to these species. EROD activity was greater in bonnetheads than the other species, whereas GST activity was significantly higher in blacktips and bonnetheads than in bull sharks. Integration of hepatic burdens with biomarker activity via constrained multivariate analysis found correlations for only a small number of individual PAH/PCB congeners. Hepatic TEQ measurements suggest potential physiological effects of these burdens compared to established TEQ thresholds for other taxa, although the likelihood of similar effects in sharks requires further study and the inclusion of toxic endpoints. Our findings indicate that sharks may be prone to the accumulation of PAHs and PCBs, which may result in negative health outcomes for these cartilaginous fishes.

Science of the Total Environment, 650 1158–1172