Gulfwatch: monitoring spatial and temporal patterns of trace metal and organic contaminants in the Gulf of Maine (1991-1997) with the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis L.

Academic Article


  • Gulfwatch, established in 1991, is an international contaminant monitoring program in which the blue mussel, Mytilus edulis, is used as an indicator of the level and extent of contamination in the Gulf of Maine. Since 1991, trace metals, PAHs, PCBs, and OC pesticides have been measured in mussel tissues at 56 sites. The distribution of most metals was relatively uniform throughout the Gulf with the exception of Ag, Pb and Cr. However, the concentration of organic contaminants increased in a north-to-south direction. High concentrations of contaminants were correlated with large human population density and proximity to large rivers. Temporal analysis of five sites revealed that the majority of contaminant concentrations were either unchanged or decreasing. The concentrations of most contaminants were lower than the median of the National Status and Trends (NS & T) Mussel Watch with the exceptions of Cr, Hg, Pb and sigma PCB24. Hg concentrations at > 80% of the Gulfwatch sites exceeded the NS & T median +1 SD. Gulfwatch continues as a primary contaminant monitoring program in the Gulf of Maine.
  • Authors

  • Chase, ME
  • Jones, Stephen
  • Hennigar, P
  • Sowles, J
  • Harding, GC
  • Freeman, K
  • Wells, PG
  • Krahforst, C
  • Coombs, K
  • Crawford, R
  • Pederson, J
  • Taylor, D
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • June 2001
  • Published In


  • Animals
  • Bivalvia
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Maine
  • Trace Elements
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 11468927
  • Start Page

  • 491
  • End Page

  • 505
  • Volume

  • 42
  • Issue

  • 6