Increasing Mercury in Yellow Perch at a Hotspot in Atlantic Canada, Kejimkujik National Park
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In the mid-1990s, yellow perch (Perca flavescens) and common loons (Gavia immer) from Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site (KNPNHS), Nova Scotia, Canada, had among the highest mercury (Hg) concentrations across North America. In 2006 and 2007, we re-examined 16 lakes to determine whether there have been changes in Hg in the loon's preferred prey, yellow perch. Total Hg concentrations were measured in up to nine perch in each of three size classes (5-10 cm, 10-15 cm, and 15-20 cm) consumed by loons. Between 1996/97 and 2006/07, polynomial regressions indicated that Hg in yellow perch increased an average of 29% in ten lakes, decreased an average of 21% in three, and were unchanged in the remaining three lakes. In 2006/07, perch in 75% of the study lakes had Hg concentrations (standardized to 12-cm fish length) equal to or above the concentration (0.21 μg·g(-1) ww) associated with a 50% reduction in maximum productivity of loons, compared with only 56% of these lakes in 1996/97. Mercury contamination currently poses a greater threat to loon health than a decade ago, and further reductions in anthropogenic emissions should be considered to reduce its impacts on ecosystem health.
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