|The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETD) repository holds full-text theses and dissertations submitted for higher degrees at the University (including submissions from former Cape Technikon and Peninsula Technikon).|
Accumulation and toxicity of metals in oysters (Striostrea margaritacea) from the South African South Coast
The current status of metal pollution off the South African South coast is not well known. This study was the first to be undertaken in many years using Striostrea margaritacea as a subject species. The aims of the study were to determine the degree of metal contamination in the water, sediments, oyster tissues and oyster shells at sites selected in Witsand, Wilderness and Goukamma, as well as to establish if Striostrea margaritacea qualifies as a successful biomonitor when using lysosomal destabilization as a tool. Seasonal variations between sites were also considered. Other objectives, such as the potential of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) as a control site and the necessity of a monitoring program along the south coast were also included. Sites were sampled seasonally for one year at spring low tides. Ten oysters were collected from each individual site upon each visit. The Neutral Red Retention Time (NRRT) assay was used to determine lysosomal membrane integrity of oyster haemocytes, whereafter oysters were sacrificed for metal analyses. Metals that were analysed are aluminium (Al), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and iron (Fe). Metal analyses were done using an Inductively Coupled Plasma - Atomic Emission Spectrometer (ICP- AES). All statistical analyses were performed using ANOVA on Ranks to determine if there were significant differences between sites and between sampling occasions. Aluminium concentrations found in the water column at all sites were considered as low. Iron, zinc and copper concentrations within the water column can on the other hand be considered as high when comparisons are drawn with other studies and data sets. Sediment concentrations for all the metals within the present study were considered to be low when compared to other studies and guidelines. There were not many significant differences recorded between sites and no seasonal patterns were present. Within the tissues of the oysters, the metal ranges are considered to be low when compared to other studies. No definite conclusion about the contamination status of the oyster tissue could be drawn due to the lack of comparative literature. A field study in conjunction with a laboratory experiment should yield more reliable results. There were also no seasonal trends present and very few differences between sites. The bioaccumulation factors were considered as being low with a few exceptions where they were moderate when oyster tissue data was compared to water and sediment data. Concentrations for Al, Zn and Cu in the shells could be considered low when comparisons are drawn, with the exception of Fe that was found to be high. The bioaccumulation factors were considered to be low when oyster shell concentrations were compared to water and sediment data. There were also no seasonal trends present and a prolonged sampling period is suggested to further investigate these findings. When a comparison was drawn between the tissue and shell data a clear pattern was evident. Al and Fe concentrations were highest within the shell where as Zn and Cu concentrations were highest within the tissues of the animal. The theory of mineralization is supported by these findings where bivalves will use their shell as a reservoir for micronutrients and other substances. The NRRT assay revealed that lysosomal membrane destabilization had occurred and that the animals appeared to be stressed for the duration of the sampling period. Site 3, within the MPA, had the longest retention time. The retention times that were recorded were short when compared to other studies. This assay did however show potential as a basic monitoring tool from which more thorough investigations can be initiated. In conclusion, the study sites along the south coast of South Africa does not seem to be contaminated by Al, Zn, Cu or Fe when data is compared to international and local water quality guidelines, sediment quality guidelines and other studies. Also, as concentrations between sites did not differ greatly, it is inconclusive whether or not the MPA can be used as a reliable references site for in situ studies. More vigorous and lengthy studies should be undertaken to contribute to current knowledge of our indigenous species, Striostrea margaritacea and to aid in the development of better management of this resource as well as an ongoing monitoring programme.