Pearl oysters (Pinctada imbricata) were held in the laboratory and exposed to various levels of the heavy metals lead and zinc and the aliphatic hydrocarbons hexadecane and octacosane for 2 months. Individual oysters were followed over the course of the experiment, allowing specific calculation of total oyster growth (wet weight) and shell growth. Significant reductions in total oyster growth were observed when oysters were exposed to high concentrations (270μg L-1) of either zinc or lead. Exposure to the aliphatic hydrocarbons had no effect on total oyster growth. High concentrations of lead completely halted shell growth, the first demonstration of pollutant induced cessation of biomineralization in pearl oysters. Conversely, exposure to moderate levels of lead and the long-chain hydrocarbon octacosane resulted in significant increases in shell width growth. The results from this study indicate that P. imbricata is relatively tolerant of the selected pollutants and could be deployed within a remediative context in moderately polluted coastal areas.
The Journal of Shellfish Research Vol. 25, p. 159-165