The sublethal effects of copper and lead on the haematology and acid-base balance of the groovy mullet, Liza dumerili

  • HM Mzimela Coastal Research Unit of Zululand, Department of Zoology, University of Zululand, Private Bag X1001, KwaDlangezwa 3886, South Africa
  • V Wepener Coastal Research Unit of Zululand, Department of Zoology, University of Zululand, Private Bag X1001, KwaDlangezwa 3886, South Africa
  • DP Cyrus Coastal Research Unit of Zululand, Department of Zoology, University of Zululand, Private Bag X1001, KwaDlangezwa 3886, South Africa

Abstract

Toxicity bioassays were conducted on groovy mullet, Liza dumerili, using copper and lead, in order to assess how these metals affected their blood haematology and acid-base balance. Short-term (96 hours) exposure to lead caused significantly more haematological response [PCO2] than copper, when compared to the control. When copper and lead were applied in combination there were significant increases in bicarbonate content and red blood cell count of the fish. Long-term (28 days) exposure to copper and lead resulted in significant increases in blood glucose, haemoglobin content and the acid-base status of the fish. The results of this study highlight the stress to which estuarine fish are exposed through the uncontrolled discharge of heavy metals and the inherent dangers posed by combinations of metals in the aquatic environment. They will also help emphasise the need to control pollution in order to protect aquatic biodiversity.

Keywords: toxicity; estuarine fish; heavy metals; copper; lead; haematology; acid-base balance

(Afr J Aqua Sci: 2002 27(1): 39-46)
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Articles

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eISSN: 1727-9364
print ISSN: 1608-5914