Fisherman warned of high mercury levels in certain animals in Elkhorn Slough

MOSS LANDING, Calif. - The Elkhorn Slough is known for it's wide variety of fish and wildlife. Certain areas are also popular for fishing, but that comes with some risk for people looking to consume what they catch. 

The Central Coast organization "Our Children's Earth" is warning fisherman of high mercury levels found in some species in Elkhorn Slough. Mariana Del Valle with Our Children's Earth says she reaches out to the fishing community in that area in hopes to inform them about the dangers.  

"Methyl mercury is a toxic metal that can effect the fetus, so women that are pregnant can actually have babies that have brain damage, seizures and blindness and kids that have kidney failure and brain damage as well," says Del Valle.

A fish advisory issued by the Cal EPA in 2016 said unsafe levels of mercury were found in large bat rays and leopard sharks. Both commonly found in Elkhorn Slough.

A Moss Landing resident Gary Burnet says he doesn't eat anything from the Monterey Bay for that reason, "I used to fish when I lived in Santa Cruz harbor, I used to live there and I used to fish salmon. I haven't eaten anything out of this bay for 5 or 6 years now."

Some people who do fish in Moss Landing, like Kevin Byrnes, says they know about the high levels of mercury, but would like to see signs posted warning fisherman of what animals are impacted. "There should be charts available or something that tell you the more susceptible fish, like bottom feeders or whatever just so people have a general idea," says Byrnes.

Del Valle says her organization has reached out to Moss Landing officials to try and get more warning signs posted. They are also working with other foundations to post murals in different communities on the Central Coast to alert people about the dangers of mercury.

To learn more about the dangers of mercury and safe amounts to consume, click here.

For more information on the fish advisory issued in 2016, click here.

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