Bioaccumulation of mercury and other metal contaminants in invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles) from Curaçao


• Lionfish Hg concentrations fell below World Health Organization safety limits.

• Lionfish Hg concentration increased with body size and body condition.

• A petroleum refinery is not a significant source of metal contaminants in lionfish.

• Consuming lionfish does not pose a risk of exposure to metal contaminants.


A wide range of ecological and environmental factors influence metal bioaccumulation in fish. Studies of mercury and other metal contaminants in invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish are limited, yet consumption of the invasive predator is increasingly utilized as a management strategy. In this study, we examined the effects of body size, body condition, sex, trophic level, carbon source, diet, depth and capture location on mercury concentrations in lionfish collected from Curaçao. In addition, we examined whether or not a local petroleum refinery is the source of metal contamination in lionfish. Mercury concentrations ranged from 0.008 to 0.106 mg/kg and we found no effect of the petroleum refinery on metal bioaccumulation in lionfish. Low concentrations of metal contaminants indicate lionfish from Curaçao are safe for human consumption.

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