Use of the clam Asaphis deflorata as a potential indicator of organochlorine bioaccumulation in Hong Kong coastal sediments

Shanti Moganti, Bruce J. Richardson*, Katherine McClellan, Michael Martin, Paul K S Lam, Gene J. Zheng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


In order to test its ability as a bioaccumulator, the deposit feeding clam Asaphis deflorata, collected from a clean coastal area in Hong Kong (Ding Chau, Ma On Shan), was exposed to field-collected sediments representing a gradient of contamination. Sediments were collected from four sites, namely Shek O in the southeast of Hong Kong Island, Ap Lei Chau in Aberdeen district, Tai Kok Tsui in the Mong Kok waterfront, and To Kwa Wan near Kowloon City pier. Shek O was the cleanest and To Kwa Wan was the most polluted site. Replicate 30 L fiberglass tanks containing equal numbers of organisms were maintained for 28 days, with equal quantities of sediment and filtered seawater. Prior to this the animals were depurated for 10 days in clean sediment. During the 28-day holding period, sampling of both sediment and clams was performed on days 0, 10 and 28, along with condition index measurements. Concentrations of organochlorine pesticides and PCBs in sediments showed that Shek O was the cleanest of the sites, followed by Ap Lei Chau, Tai Kok Tsui and To Kwa Wan. There were marked differences among the sites, especially in PAH concentrations, with To Kwa Wan showing extremely high sediment concentrations. Following exposure, the biota concentrations of various organochlorine pesticides and PCBs suggested that there was sediment concentration-dependent accumulation by A. deflorata on day 10 of the experiment. However, there was no significant increase on day 28 for any of the compounds tested. Contaminant concentrations in clams feeding on Shek O sediments were minimal and almost the same on all sampling days, indicating the presence of only baseline contaminant concentrations. The condition indices (CI) of the clams on various sampling days showed that the animals were relatively more stable in sediment from Shek O. There were some deaths in all the test tanks (including those containing Shek O sediments). In addition, clams appeared to bury faster in the cleaner Shek O sediment and remained buried, unlike those in the sediment from the other locations, where some remained predominantly on the surface. Nevertheless, despite not completely burying, the clams in other test sediments still exhibited sediment concentration-dependent tissue accumulation. The results of the investigation indicate the possibility of developing a standard test protocol for bioaccumulation by sediment dwelling invertebrates, for practical use in Hong Kong, using A. deflorata.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)672-680
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number6-12
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Asaphis deflorata
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Clams
  • Hong Kong
  • Organochlorine pesticides
  • PCBs
  • Polychlorinated biphenyls
  • Sediments


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