Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 6, pp 2053–2062 | Cite as

Domoic acid in benthic flatfish on the continental shelf of Monterey Bay, California, USA

  • Veronica L. VigilantEmail author
  • Mary W. Silver
Research Article


Within Monterey Bay, California, USA, the food web transfer of domoic acid (DA), a neurotoxin produced by diatoms of the genus Pseudo-nitzschia, has led to major mortality events of marine mammals and birds. Less visible, and less well known, is whether invertebrates and fish associated with the benthos are also affected by blooms of DA-producing Pseudo-nitzschia spp. This study examines the presence of DA in benthic flatfish offshore of Davenport, California, (37°0′36″N, 122°13′12″W) and within Monterey Bay, California (36°45′0″N, 122°1′48″W), including species that feed primarily in the sediment (benthic-feeding) and species that feed primarily in the water column (benthopelagic-feeding). Flatfish caught between 10 December 2002 and 17 November 2003 at depths of 30–180 m had concentrations of DA in the viscera ranging from 3 to 26 μg DA g−1 of viscera. Although the DA values reported are relatively low, benthic-feeding flatfish were frequently contaminated with DA, especially as compared with the frequency of contamination of flatfish species that feed in the water column. Furthermore, on days in which both benthic-feeding and benthopelagic-feeding flatfish were collected, the former had significantly higher concentrations of DA in the viscera. Curlfin turbot, Pleuronicthys decurrens, the flatfish with both the highest level and frequency of DA contamination, are reported to feed exclusively on polychaetes, suggesting that these invertebrates may be an important vector of the toxin in benthic communities and may pose a risk to other benthic-feeding organisms.


Polychaete Fecal Pellet Domoic Acid English Sole Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Toxin 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Don Pearson, NMFS-Santa Cruz, for providing valuable information on flatfish identification and biology and NMFS Santa Cruz laboratory for donation of flatfish samples from the groundfish ecology cruise; Lee Bradford, captain of the R/V Johnson, for collection of flatfish samples; Chris Reeves and Rozalind Antrobus, both of UCSC, for assistance in collection and dissection of fish samples; Greg Caillet from Moss Landing Marine Laboratories for additional information on flatfish feeding behavior and access to literature on the subject; and MBARI staff for providing water samples from M1. This research was supported by funding from the Friends of Long Marine Lab and the Meyers Oceanographic and Marine Biology Trust to V. Vigilant and the NOAA Center for Integrated Marine Technology (CIMT) project (NOAA Award #NA16OC2936-3) and a University of California Office of the President Award to M. Silver (03T-CEQI−07-0062).

Supplementary material

227_2007_634_MOESM1_ESM.xls (29 kb)
Domoic acid in benthic flatfish on the continental shelf of Monterey Bay, California, USA


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ocean Science DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA

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