BRI has developed a Global Biotic Mercury Synthesis (GBMS) database, the first of its kind, that is a compilation and synthesis of published fish, sea turtle, bird, and marine mammal mercury data collected from all over the world. The GBMS database provides a standardized and comprehensive platform for understanding mercury concentrations in biota that can aid parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury during their ratification and implementation process. Data from the GBMS database are presented in BRI's report, Mercury in the Global Environment.
Lead Investigator: David Evers
BRI's report, Mercury in the Global Environment, presents data on mercury concentrations in biota of concern in Article 19 of the Minamata Convention (i.e., marine and freshwater fish, sea turtles, birds and marine mammals), which are extracted from the GBMS database. Mercury concentrations from key biota are presented and compared geographically and taxonomically through Case Studies.
Data for this report have been compiled from the GBMS database, including 832 different references, representing 108 countries, 1,963 unique locations, and 6,162 averaged mercury samples from 267,651 total individual organisms.Together, these data can help raise awareness of potential risks and benefits of consuming key food items and thereafter help inform resource managers and decision makers about the species and places in which mercury represents a potential risk to human health.
The GBMS database also represents a valuable tool for: (1) integrating mercury science into important policy decisions related to the Minamata Convention on Mercury; (2) use by existing networks such as the Arctic Monitoring Assessment Programme (AMAP); and (3) protecting human health and the environment from the risks of mercury exposure.
From the Antarctic to the Arctic, marine mammals move across large expanses of water, foraging on the smallest of animals (krill) or preying on the largest; all depend on healthy and uncontaminated food sources. However, over the past century, mercury released through industrial processes such as coal-fired power generation, has been entering and accumulating in the world’s oceans.
To help illustrate the impacts of methylmercury biomagnification (increasing toxicity as it moves up the foodweb) and bioaccumulation on marine mammals, we produced Mercury in the Global Environment: Marine Mammals. This publication summarizes GBMS data from four taxonomic groups including toothed whales, baleen whales, pinnipeds (seals and walruses), and polar bears, in addition to people (in particular, aboriginal subsistence commmunities). For each group, we include a chart and discussion detailing mercury body burdens.
The data presented here emphasize the global distribution of marine and freshwater fish, sea turtles, seabirds and other avian species that forage in coastal areas, and marine mammals. Thresholds shown are for human health dietary purposes, except for birds which reflect reproductive harm. See chart above for threshold definitions. Click map for a larger view.
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