• Mercury Accumulation and Endocrine Disruption in Largemouth Bass in the Rae’s Creek Watershed, Augusta, GA

      Sayre, Joe; Department of Biological Sciences (2016-03)
      The Savannah River Basin in Augusta, Georgia, has a history of heavy metal contamination. Industrialization in the 19th century led to elevated concentrations of lead contamination. Notable examples of contributors to the problem included the Confederate powder works (1861-65) and the Augusta arsenal (1816-1955). Significant mercury contamination has become apparent in this century. Possible causes include industrial chlorine and paper production. In 2011 and 2015, we investigated two lakes in the Rae’s Creek watershed. Aumond Lake and Lake Olmstead are impoundments of Rae’s Creek and flow into the Augusta Canal and ultimately into the Savannah River. Our interest was in mercury contamination in Micropterus salmoides (largemouth bass) because these lakes are popular for anglers who provide fish for family consumption. We also examined endocrine disruption via assessment of vitellogenin. Mercury analysis in fish in this watershed has typically been reported as a composite sample and includes fish other than largemouth bass. Our data show that the mercury concentration in largemouth bass (since 2011) has decreased in both impoundments, but the concentration of mercury is significantly higher in Aumond Lake than Lake Olmstead. Our data indicate that endocrine disruption is occurring in male largemouth bass. Funding Source: Center for Undergraduate Research and Department of Biological Sciences