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The "storm of the century" (December 1999) and the accidental escape of Siberian sturgeons (Acipenser baerii) into the Gironde estuary (Southwest France): an original approach for metal contamination

Abstract : Goal, Scope and Background. The Gironde estuary is considered as a reference ecosystem with a large fish assemblage (75 species) and the presence of eleven diadromous species. However, geochemical studies and biomonitoring using oysters have shown high metal pollution levels. During the December 1999 hurricane, more than 5,000 young Siberian sturgeons (Acipenser baerii) accidentally escaped from a fish farm into the estuary, where this species had not been present until then. Methods. In 2002/2003, thirteen sturgeons were collected from the estuary and twelve were obtained from the fish farm, from the same initial batch. Analysis of five metals (cadmium, zinc, copper, lead, mercury) measured in the gills, muscle, liver and kidneys, revealed significantly higher levels of cadmium, lead and mercury in the sturgeon collected from the estuary compared with those from the fish farm. Results and Discussion. Metal analysis of the stomach contents of fish collected from the estuary and artificial food used in the fish farm indicated that dietary exposure might account for the differences observed. Nevertheless, metal concentrations in sturgeons that had spent about three years in the Gironde estuary may be considered low when compared with other species (mullets, eels) or with data in the literature regarding concentrations able to induce structural and functional perturbations in fish. As the introduced Siberian sturgeons live in the same place and feed on the same prey as the juveniles of the endangered A. sturio, our results indicate in the short term that this strictly protected species does not appear to be much affected by the polymetallic pollution in the Gironde estuary. Marked differences in the concentrations of three metals (Cd, Pb, Hg) were established in four organs (gills, liver, skeletal muscle, kidneys) of Siberian sturgeons between specimens that had accidentally escaped into the Gironde estuary (France) during the December 1999 hurricane and were collected in March/June 2003 and specimens from the same initial batch at the fish farm. Recommendations and Perspectives. Based on these results, a programme will be set up, with sampling campaigns carried out in the estuary every two years, with systematic monitoring of age in order to check the origin of individuals, in conjunction with sampling of sturgeon from the fish farm. This programme will complement other studies on several biological species representative of the main trophic levels in the estuary, especially the plankton component, benthic macroinvertebrates and oysters.
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Submitted on : Friday, May 15, 2020 - 1:56:35 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 17, 2021 - 12:27:18 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-02590035, version 1
  • IRSTEA : PUB00023326



Régine Maury-Brachet, Eric Rochard, Gilles Durrieu, Alain Boudou. The "storm of the century" (December 1999) and the accidental escape of Siberian sturgeons (Acipenser baerii) into the Gironde estuary (Southwest France): an original approach for metal contamination. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Springer Verlag, 2008, 15 (1), pp.89-94. ⟨hal-02590035⟩



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