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Biol Bull. 2009 Apr;216(2):175-87.

Impacts of suspended sediments on fertilization, embryonic development, and early larval life stages of the pacific herring, Clupea pallasi.

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  • 1Bodega Marine Laboratory, Bodega Bay, California 94923, USA.


Pacific herring reproduce in the San Francisco Bay estuary during times of the year when suspended sediment loads are highest due to freshwater input, yet little is known about the effects of sediment on herring early life stages. During the first 2 h after eggs contacted water, embryos were adhesive and susceptible to having sediment particles attach permanently to the chorion. Treatment with suspended San Francisco Bay dredged sediments at ecologically relevant concentrations of 250 or 500 mg/l during this time period increased self-aggregation of the eggs and led to sublethal and lethal effects. After the first 2 h in water, sediments that contacted embryos did not attach to chorions and did not have an observable impact. Sediment treatment during the first 2 h was not linked statistically to declines in fertilization or total larval hatch rate, but it did produce significant sublethal effects that included increases in precocious larval hatch and higher percentages of abnormal larvae, as well as an increase in larval mortality.

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