Comparison of Condition of Young-of-the-Year Bluefish from two different New Jersey estuaries:

Hackensack River and Great Bay-Tuckerton


Primary/Presenting Author: Jennifer C. Samson

Affiliation:  NOAA/NMFS

Northeast Fisheries Science Center

James J. Howard Marine Science Laboratory

74 Magruder Rd.

Highlands, NJ  07732

Phone: (732) 872-3030



Additional Author: Ashok D. Deshpande

Affiliation:  Same as Above




Estuaries along the Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) have been identified by the National Marine Fisheries Service as Essential Fish Habitat for young-of-the-year bluefish (YOY).  Several MAB estuaries are contaminated with PCBs, PAHs, and heavy metals.  YOY bluefish utilizing polluted MAB estuaries during periods of rapid growth and development are conceivably chronically exposed to contaminants in the water column, sediments and food.  The objective of the study was to compare the condition of YOY bluefish from two different MAB estuaries (Great Bay, New Jersey-pristine and Hackensack River, New Jersey-contaminated) using biomarkers that target different levels of biological organization.  Fish were collected upon immigration into estuaries in summer and just prior to emigration in fall.  Summer collections were analyzed for baseline PCB contamination in whole fish.  Fall collections were analyzed for gross pathologies, tissue localization and composition of lipids and PCBs, biliary FACs, cytochrome P-450 induction and DNA adducts.  Significant differences were detected between bluefish from the two different estuaries including a five-fold increase in DNA adduct formation in fish from the Hackensack River.  Analyses of field-collected fish from two different estuaries provide much needed information on the impact of habitat quality on the condition of YOY bluefish condition. Understanding the impact of habitat qualities on fish health is an important aspect of Essential Fish Habitat designation, management, and protection.


KEYWORDS:  Hackensack River, Bluefish, PCBs, PAHs, Biomarkers