Health Status of Sand Flathead (Platycephalus bassensis), Inhabiting an Industrialised and Urbanised Embayment, Port Phillip Bay, Victoria as Measured by Biomarkers of Exposure and Effects
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Port Phillip Bay, Australia, is a large semi-closed bay with over four million people living in its catchment basin. The Bay receives waters from the Yarra River which drains the city of Melbourne, as well as receiving the discharges of sewage treatment plants and petrochemical and agricultural chemicals. A 1999 study demonstrated that fish inhabiting Port Phillip Bay showed signs of effects related to pollutant exposure despite pollution management practices having been implemented for over a decade. To assess the current health status of the fish inhabiting the Bay, a follow up survey was conducted in 2015. A suite of biomarkers of exposure and effects were measured to determine the health status of Port Phillip Bay sand flathead (Platycephalus bassensis), namely ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase (EROD) activity, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) biliary metabolites, carboxylesterase activity (CbE) and DNA damage (8-oxo-dG). The reduction in EROD activity in the present study suggests a decline in the presence of EROD activity-inducing chemicals within the Bay since the 1990s. Fish collected in the most industrialised/urbanised sites did not display higher PAH metabolite levels than those in less developed areas of the Bay. Ratios of PAH biliary metabolite types were used to indicate PAH contaminant origin. Ratios indicated fish collected at Corio Bay and Hobsons Bay were subjected to increased low molecular weight hydrocarbons of petrogenic origin, likely attributed to the close proximity of these sites to oil refineries, compared to PAH biliary metabolites in fish from Geelong Arm and Mordialloc.Quantification of DNA damage indicated a localised effect of exposure to pollutants, with a 10-fold higher DNA damage level in fish sampled from the industrial site of Corio Bay relative to the less developed site of Sorrento. Overall, integration of biomarkers by multivariate analysis indicated that the health of fish collected in industrialised areas was compromised, with biologically significant biomarkers of effects (LSI, CF and DNA damage) discriminating between individuals collected in industrialised areas from observations made in fish collected in less developed areas of the Bay.
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