Measurements of selenium in sediments and benthic infauna of Lake Macquarie, an estuary on the east coast of Australia, indicate that sediments are a significant source of selenium in the lake's food web. Analysis of surficial sediment samples indicated higher selenium concentrations near what are believed to be the main industrial sources of selenium to the lake: a smelter and a power station. Sediment cores taken from sediments in Mannering Bay, near a power station at Vales Point, contained an average of 12 times more selenium in surficial sections than sediment cores from Nord's Wharf, a part of the lake remote from direct inputs of selenium. The highest selenium concentration found in Mannering Bay sediments (17.2 μg/g) was 69 times the apparent background concentration at Nord's Wharf (0.25 μg/g). Pore water concentrations in Mannering Bay were also high, up to 5 μg/l compared to those at Nord's Wharf which were below detection limits (0.2 μg/l). Selenium concentrations in muscle tissues of three benthic-feeding fish species (Mugil cephalus, Platycephalus fuscus, Acanthopagrus australis) were significantly correlated (p < 0.05) with surficial sediment selenium concentration. Selenium concentrations in polychaetes and molluscs of Mannering Bay were up to 58 times higher than those from Nord's Wharf. Two benthic organisms, the eunicid polychaete Marphysa sanguinea and the bivalve mollusc Spisula trigonella, were maintained at different densities in selenium-spiked sediments. Both animals accumulated selenium from the spiked sediment, confirming that bioaccumulation from contaminated sediments occurs. Collectively, these data suggest that benthic food webs are important sources of selenium to the fish of Lake Macquarie.
- Lake Macquarie
- Pore water