Impact assessment of a large river on the sediments and fish from its continental shelf: using Solea solea as sentinel in the Ebro river mouth (NW Mediterranean, Spain)

Maria Constenla*, Anna Soler-Membrives, Victoria Besada, Maite Carrassón

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Many studies have been carried out along mighty rivers with heavily industrialized watersheds to evaluate pollutants and their effects on freshwater organisms. However, their impact on marine organisms is virtually unknown. In order to cover this gap, Solea solea, one of the most important commercial fish species, together with sediments, were sampled during 2013–2015 offshore from the Ebro Delta river mouth. Fish health indicators (condition indices, histological tissue alterations, and parasite descriptors) were used to assess the potential effect of pollutants, an issue of particular interest in the area following the dredging activities taking place in the river upstream in 2013. No major histopathological alterations were detected, but perivascular inflammatory foci (PIF) were frequently observed, especially in 2014. The most prevalent and abundant parasites were acanthocephalans and digeneans within the digestive tract and copepods on the gills. Levels of trace metals from sediments and fish muscle were below the effects range median and reference levels accepted for human consumption, respectively. However, the lower levels of the hepatosomatic index, higher numbers of PIF, and variations in the abundance of parasites in 2014 and 2015 could suggest a pollutant exposure during these years. These results warn signs of toxicity, which could be associated with sediment leaks during the dredging activities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironmental science and pollution research
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted in press - 2021

Keywords

  • Ebro river mouth
  • Flix
  • Sentinel, Fish health
  • Solea solea
  • Trace metals

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