Mercury, cadmium and lead in black scabbardfish (Aphanopus carbo Lowe, 1839) from mainland Portugal and the Azores and Madeira archipelagos


  • Valentina Costa Departamento de Oceanografia e Pescas, Universidade dos Açores
  • Helena Maria Lourenço Unidade de Valorização dos Produtos da Pesca e da Aquicultura, INRB, L-IPIMAR
  • Ivone Figueiredo Unidade de Recursos Marinhos e Sustentabilidade, INRB, L-IPIMAR
  • Lucília Carvalho Departamento de Estatística e Investigação Operacional, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
  • Humberto Lopes Departamento de Oceanografia e Pescas, Universidade dos Açores
  • Inês Farias Unidade de Recursos Marinhos e Sustentabilidade, INRB, L-IPIMAR
  • Luís Pires Departamento de Oceanografia e Pescas, Universidade dos Açores
  • Cláudia Afonso Unidade de Valorização dos Produtos da Pesca e da Aquicultura, INRB, L-IPIMAR
  • Ana Rita Vieira Departamento de Biologia Animal e Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
  • Maria Leonor Nunes Unidade de Valorização dos Produtos da Pesca e da Aquicultura, INRB, L-IPIMAR
  • Leonel Serrano Gordo Departamento de Biologia Animal e Centro de Oceanografia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa



total mercury, cadmium, lead, muscle, gonad, liver, Aphanopus carbo, Northeast Atlantic


Total mercury (THg), cadmium (Cd) and lead (Pb) concentrations were investigated in muscle, liver and gonad tissue of black scabbardfish (Aphanopus carbo) from the southern northeast Atlantic at three Portuguese locations: the mainland and the archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira. Particular emphasis was placed on the comparison of metal levels between geographic locations. Other factors such as size, sex and sexual maturity were also investigated. The median concentrations (mg/kg ww) of THg showed a decreasing trend in the order liver>muscle>gonad. Cadmium levels decreased in the order liver>gonad>muscle and Pb levels decreased in the order gonad>liver>muscle. According to the EU limits, the concentration observed in some specimens, particularly those of THg, raises some food safety concerns. In all the tissues the concentrations of each toxic metal differed between locations. In particular: i) THg concentrations in specimens from Madeira were significantly higher than those from the Azores and the mainland; ii) Cd levels in specimens from the mainland were significantly higher than those from Madeira and the Azores; and iii) for all analysed tissues Pb levels were significantly higher in specimens from the Azores than in those from the mainland. The differences in toxic metal levels between locations were further discussed in relation to aspects of species dynamics and the influence of the main environmental features at each location.


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How to Cite

Costa V, Lourenço HM, Figueiredo I, Carvalho L, Lopes H, Farias I, Pires L, Afonso C, Vieira AR, Nunes ML, Serrano Gordo L. Mercury, cadmium and lead in black scabbardfish (Aphanopus carbo Lowe, 1839) from mainland Portugal and the Azores and Madeira archipelagos. scimar [Internet]. 2009Dec.31 [cited 2023May31];73(S2):77-88. Available from:




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