Investigating Bermuda's pollution history through stable isotope analyses of modern and museum-held gorgonian corals

David M. BAKER*, Thaddeus J.T. MURDOCH, Inga CONTI-JERPE, Marilyn FOGEL

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

For centuries, Bermuda has been challenged with wastewater management for the protection of human and environmental health. By quantifying the δ15N of the common sea fan Gorgonia ventalina sampled from 30 sites throughout Bermuda we show that sewage-derived nitrogen is detectable on nearshore coral reefs and declines across the lagoon to the outer rim. We also sampled gorgonians from two museum collections representing a 50y time-series (1958–2008). These samples revealed an increase in δ15N of > 4.0‰ until the mid-1970s, after which δ15N values slowly declined by ~ 2.0‰. A δ15N chronology from a gorgonian skeleton exhibited a similar decline over the last 30–40 years of approximately 0.6‰. We conclude that policies have been effective in reducing sewage impacts to Bermudian reefs. However, significant sources of sewage pollution persist and are likely have a strong impact on harbor and nearshore coral communities and human health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-175
Number of pages7
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Volume114
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd

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