Original Research

Cadmium in False Bay: Monitoring potential of the marine snail, Oxystele tigrina (Mollusca)

Koot Reinecke, Naomi Mdzeke, Sophié Reinecke
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 28, No 2 | a52 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v28i2.52 | © 2009 Koot Reinecke, Naomi Mdzeke, Sophié Reinecke | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 September 2009 | Published: 06 September 2009

About the author(s)

Koot Reinecke, Departement Plant- en Dierkunde Universiteit van Stellenbosch, South Africa
Naomi Mdzeke, Departement Plant- en Dierkunde Universiteit van Stellenbosch
Sophié Reinecke, Departement Plant- en Dierkunde Universiteit van Stellenbosch

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Cadmium contamination levels in the False Bay intertidal zone in South Africa were assessed in the water and sediments over a period of one year. Samples were collected seasonally from six sites within the bay, and from a reference site situated just outside the eastern arm of False Bay in order to obtain a general overview of contamination levels to which invertebrates in the coastal areas are exposed. The results from the chemical analyses of water and sediment samples revealed that most contamination was associated with the northern shore of the bay between Strand and Muizenberg, where the most populated and industrialised catchments occur. The high contamination factors calculated for Cd for sediments from some sites suggested a strong input of industrial and other discharges containing this heavy metal. There were signifi cant seasonal and spatial differences in the cadmium concentrations, with spatial variations indicating localised contamination, while seasonal variations were assumed to be predominantly related to changes in precipitation and runoff at different times of the year. The mean cadmium concentrations in the water and sediments were occasionally higher than the levels recommended by the South African Water Quality Guidelines, and indicated an increase in the levels compared to the previous water quality surveys. Laboratory experiments were conducted to examine the uptake, accumulation and loss of cadmium by the different organs of the periwinkle, Oxystele tigrina, from the False Bay intertidal zone. Tissue-specific cadmium accumulation in the control and exposed individuals were compared over a 14-day exposure period to sub-lethal concentrations (0.2 and 0.4 µg/ml) of water-borne cadmium in the form of CdCl2. The animals were sampled at regular intervals and the cadmium concentrations in the different organs measured by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. The results showed a general pattern of cadmium increase in the exposed individuals over a relatively short period. Cadmium was detected in all the tissues, with varying degrees of bioaccumulation. A more or less linear pattern of cadmium accumulation indicated that the metal was not regulated by O. tigrina. The metal was partitioned differently into the soft tissues and shells, with the soft tissues generally displaying a higher rate of cadmium uptake. There was a loss of the accumulated cadmium from the organs of the contaminated individuals upon transfer to clean seawater, with variations in the percentage of cadmium loss probably indicating that only part of the accumulated cadmium was firmly bound to the different tissues. The cadmium loss in the group that was exposed to 0.40µg/ml was not significant, indicating that the cadmium may have been more tightly bound in the tissues of this group compared to the group exposed to 0.20 µg/L. The amounts of cadmium in sediments and animal bodies in some parts of False Bay were such that cadmium could at current relatively low levels be expected to accumulate over time in these animals. Under changed physical conditions that may increase bioavailability, body levels could be reached that could affect the long term survival of this species and possibly its predators.


Swaarmetaal; kadmium; bio-akkumulasie; mariene besoedeling; Oxystele


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