Coral trout, P. leopardus, is an iconic and highly valued species and the Great Barrier Reef is one of the world's most pristine and carefully managed reef habitats. Successful management of these resources is a crucial and challenging task . The implications of extensive melanosis/melanoma in wild coral trout will depend on the prevalence of the syndrome outside the study region, the causal factors and the proportion which develop into fatal melanomas. However, this syndrome will no doubt have implications for the management of fish populations and the GBR marine park. Beyond health implications for individual fish, this syndrome may have implications for the population as a whole and the commercial and recreational fisheries that exploit this species. In Xiphophorus, fish with tumours usually survive around 6 months, compared to an average of 4 years in healthy fish, but any change in their environment, such as a drop in temperature can rapidly lead to death . It is unclear whether future changes in the ocean environment or climate will similarly exacerbate the effect of melanomas in wild P. leopardus populations, but clearly further research is urgently needed to understand the distribution, prevalence, ecological and fisheries significance of this syndrome. In particular, further studies should focus on UV exposure as a risk factor and confirm whether there is a genetic effect to susceptibility of the syndrome. Utilising molecular markers used to study melanomas in humans and laboratory fish models e.g. those that target the B-Raf protein , the EGFR gene, Xmrk, or other mitochondrial DNA status markers would highlight this genetic aspect.
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Results for population-wide Hg intakes from different seafood categories () are generally consistent with estimates from other studies showing the dominant role of both frequently consumed species, such as canned tuna and pollock, and high Hg species such as swordfish (; ) on overall exposures. When considering trade-offs among potential risks and benefits from seafood consumption (), it is useful to note that most species, regardless of geographic origin, are fairly low in Hg (0.10–0.15 mg/kg) and contribute relatively small amounts to Hg exposure in the U.S. population (). Model sensitivity analysis indicates that collecting additional monitoring data for tuna species common in the commercial market, as well as swordfish, shrimp, Pacific pollock, and Atlantic crabs, would result in the greatest improvements in per capita exposure estimates.
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To explore Hg intakes among high fish consumers, the combined NMFS and CSFII data (e.g., ; ) were applied to predict per capita Hg intakes at various quantities of fish consumed. Although it reflects a population average, market share occupied by each species (, , ) provides a proxy for individual diet selection (). In , the rows reflect percentiles of exposures based on seafood Hg levels that vary both geographically and across species. The columns reflect variability in exposures as a function of the quantity of seafood consumed by different demographic groups. shows that, at the 90th percentile consumption rate, exposures based on fish Hg means reported by the FDA () would suggest that any individual selecting this proxy diet would be exposed to Hg at levels below the U.S. EPA RfD (). However, exposures based on geographic variability in fish Hg suggest that a fraction of each demographic group will exceed the U.S. EPA RfD.
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