Mercury concentrations in Hawaiian yellowfin tuna populations (Thunnus albacares) are increasing at a rate of 3.8 percent or more per year, according to a new University of Michigan-led study. Mercury is a toxic, bioaccumulating trace metal whose emissions to the environment have increased significantly as a result of anthropogenic activities such as mining and fossil fuel combustion. With the great deal of mercury actively cycling in the environment at present, one might predict that the concentration of mercury in fish should have increased dramatically since the Industrial Revolution. However, for decades scientists have expected these mercury levels in open-ocean fish to increase in response to rising atmospheric concentrations, but evidence for that hypothesis has been hard to find.

This recent study led by Paul Drevnick, an assistant research scientist at the U-M School of Natural Resources and Environment compiled and re-analysed three previously published reports on yellowfin tuna caught near Hawaii…

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