In Taiwan the first incident of green discoloration in the oysters Crassostrea gigas was observed in the Charting coastal area in January 1986 and the mortality reports appeared 3 months later. The cause of green oysters was identified as copper pollution. The copper content of the oysters was extremely high (2100 μg/g and 4400 μg/g of dry weight in January 1986 and January 1989, respectively). In this paper some recent data on distribution of copper species (complexed by inorganic and organic ligands, labile and non-labile, polar and non-polar) and forms (dissolved and particulate), dissolved organic compounds (such as lipids, acid- and base-mobile organic compounds) and copper assimilative capacity in sea water are reported. In general, high concentrations of particulate copper (range from 3.09 to 732 μg/l) and non-labile organic copper (over 70% of total dissolved copper) were observed. Relatively low values of polar organic copper (less than about 48% of the total organic copper) indicated that non-polar organic complexes from man-made organic pollutants were the major complexes in the study area.
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