Trace element levels in mollusks from clean and polluted coastal marine sites in the Mediterranean, Red and North Seas

Barak Herut, Nurit Kress, Edna Shefer, Hava Hornung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The trace element contamination levels in mollusks were evaluated for different marine coastal sites in the Mediterranean (Israeli coast), Red (Israeli coast) and North (German coast) Seas. Three bivalve species (Mactra corallina, Donax sp, and Mytilus edulis) and two gastropod species (Patella sp. and Cellana rota) were sampled at polluted and relatively clean sites, and their soft tissue analyzed for Hg, Cd, Zn, Cu, Mn and Fe concentrations. Representative samples were screened for organic contaminants [(DDE), polychlorinated biphenyls PCBs and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)] which exhibited very low concentrations at all sites. In the Red Sea, the gastropod C. rota showed low levels of Hg (below detection limit) and similar Cd concentrations at all the examined sites, while other trace elements (Cu, Zn, Mn, Fe) were slightly enriched at the northern beach stations. Along the Mediterranean coast of Israel, Hg and Zn were enriched in two bivalves (M. corallina and Donax sp.) from Haifa Bay, both species undergoing a long-term decrease in Hg based on previous studies. Significant Cd and Zn enrichment was detected in Patella sp. from the Kishon River estuary at the southern part of Haifa Bay. In general, Patella sp. and Donax sp. specimens from Haifa Bay exhibited higher levels of Cd compared to other sites along the Israeli Mediterranean coast, attributed to the enrichment of Cd in suspended particulate matter. Along the German coast (North Sea) M. edulis exhibited higher concentrations of Hg and Cd at the Elbe and Eider estuaries, but with levels below those found in polluted sites elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-162
Number of pages9
JournalHelgoland Marine Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments The authors would like to express their gratitude to Y. Gertner, G. Fainstein, L. Izraelov, and E. Shoham-Frider for their technical assistance in the trace metal analyses and sample collection. This study was supported by the BMBF MARS 1D project GR 01478, and partly by the Israeli Ministry of Infrastructure and the Israeli Ministry of Environment.


  • Coastal marine sites
  • Contamination levels
  • Mollusks
  • Trace elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science


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