Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Virginia Institute of Marine Science


Levels of toxic organic pollutants (TOP) were examined in the blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus, of Virginia waters. Alkyl substituted polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (ASPAH), thought derived from weathered petroleum, were the most common organic pollutants present. Unsubstituted aromatics, heterosubstituted aromatics, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), and DDT metabolites were also detected by the analytical procedure employed. Highest levels of ASPAH were found in crabs from the heavily industrialized Hampton Roads area of the James River. Lower concentrations were detected in crabs from the Pocomoke Sound, the upper James and the Rappahannock River sampling sites. PCB levels were elevated in samples taken from both James River stations. Levels of TOP were generally higher in crabs sampled in June than in September of 1981. Concentrations of pollutants in the tissues and tissue lipid content were correlated. Highest levels of both were detected in the hepatopancreas, followed by egg, ovary and muscle. TOP levels in field samples and in-vivo biotransformation of the model compound benzo(a)pyrene (B(a)P) in the hepatopancreas, during in-laboratory experiments, suggested that differences may exist in the uptake and elimination of pollutants as a function of the sex and maturity of the crabs. It appeared that the metabolism of aromatic hydrocarbons varied with the molt stage of the crabs. A variety of polar metabolites of tritium labeled B(a)P were detected in the hepatopancreas of blue crabs, when examined by normal and reverse phase high performance liquid chromatography. In conclusion, to accurately assess the levels and effects of TOP in biota from the field, several factors must be considered. Among these are the species and tissues examined, the sex, maturity and condition of the individuals selected for analysis, and the location and season of sampling.



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