The entire Laguna Madre of Tamaulipas is a natural protected area and a Priority Marine Region of Mexico. However, its important biodiversity and high levels of endemism are threatened by the discharge of different pollutants and activities related to the ocean oil and gas industry. Therefore, the assessment of these effects on this marine ecosystem is of paramount importance. At present, the joint approach of monitoring chemical contaminant levels, alongside the use of pollution biomarkers as surrogate measures of biological impact within the environment, provides the better evaluation of the environmental hazard. Within this context, a biomonitoring study using native Chione elevata mussels sampled from four locations along the Mexican Laguna Madre coasts evaluated whether a battery of select biomarkers was suitable for identifying and quantifying pollution-induced stress in mussels. The levels of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), butyrylcholinesterase (BChE), carboxylesterase (CaE), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), glutathione s-transferase (GST), and the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) were measured in soft tissues samples. Different metals (Cd, Pb, Cu, Zn, and Fe) as well as total heavy hydrocarbons were also determined in sediments. Higher concentrations of metals were observed in sampling localities with marine influence possibly related to the presence of marine grass. The concentration of total heavy hydrocarbons, as expected, was higher in sites with intensive fishing activity. The integrated biomarker response (IBR) and the condition index of mussels allowed discriminating between localities of continental and marine influence, revealing that the sampling stations with continental influence were subjected to a greater stress as a result of anthropogenic effects.
- Laguna Madre