This study was aimed to determine organotin concentrations in the muricids Thais clavigera, Thais tuberosa and Morula granulata on an island wide scale and to find an adequate bioindicator species for long-term monitoring purpose. Samples were collected from the coast of Taiwan and vicinity islands with organotin analysis by graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Because triphenyltin (TPT) could not be discriminated from tributyltin (TBT) by the extraction method, organotins were measured as TBT + TPT and total hexane extractable organotins. Severity of imposex in the muricid population samples expressed as relative penis size (RPS) indices were calculated and compared to determine a suitable bioindicator species. In T. clavigera, T. tuberosa and M. granulata, TBT + TPT were 17-157, 1-44 and 117-1343 ng Sn g(-1) dry wt, respectively. And total organotins varied in the range of 181 to 1125, 23 to 44 and 229 to 1402 ng Sn g(-1) dry wt, respectively. A positive correlation was found between TBT + TPT and total organotins in M. granulata (TBT + TPT = Total organotins x 1.01-110.79; R2=0.97; p<0.001). At the site of Dapaisha, total organotins in M. granulata was 10 times higher than in T. tuberosa (i.e. 242 versus 23 ng Sn g(-1) dry wt). No signs of imposex were found in T. tuberosa (a single site in two subsequent years) and in M. granulata (seven collection sites). The degree of imposex (RPS) of T. clavigera varied from 0.2 to 38.1%. The RPS indices from fishing harbors were not higher than from rocky shores and oyster culture sites. No correlation was found between RPS indices and concentrations of TBT + TPT or total organotins. M. granulata seemed to be insensitive to organotin pollution although organotins were also detected. Our results indicate that organotin pollution is wide spread in coastal waters of Taiwan and pollutants at least include butyltins and phenyltins. As a bioindicator species, T. clavigera is more appropriate than T. tuberosa and M. granulata to monitor organotin contamination.
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