African Journal of Marine Science

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Short Communication

Effects of heavy metals on the development and survival of abalone Haliotis midae larvae

RL Stofberg, CA Simon, RG Snyman


Despite a growing abalone Haliotis midae industry in South Africa, few studies have measured the effects of heavy metals on larval survival and growth in the face of recent increases in marine pollution. The aim of this study was to quantify the effect of copper on survival and zinc on development of H. midae larvae. Larvae 24 hours old were exposed to either copper (0–30 μg l–1) or zinc (0–200 μg l–1) for 48 h before mortality or larval development respectively were quantified. Copper significantly reduced survival, with an LC50 of 5.58 μg l–1 (5.07–6.15, 95% CI). Although the concentrations of zinc used in the study did not have a significant effect on mortality, there was a significant effect on the incidence of abnormal larvae with an EC50 of 102.25  μg l–1 (96.68–105.94, 95% CI). At concentrations above the EC50, more than 50% of the larvae showed severe developmental abnormalities. Results suggest that copper poses the greatest risk to abalone larvae as the LC50 was similar to the target concentration for this metal for South African coastal waters. By contrast, zinc is potentially less problematic, with the EC50 for larval development being four times the target concentration for this metal.

Keywords: copper, pollution, zinc

African Journal of Marine Science 2011, 33(2): 339–345
AJOL African Journals Online