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Definition of copper:
Copper is a heavy metal with the symbol Cu and atomic number 29.[1] It is very ductile and malleable. [2]
This is the common definition for copper, other definitions can be discussed in the article


The bucktail creek- turquoise color is copper precipitate on rocks © Iadanza, NOAA, 1996

Important anthropogenic inputs of copper into the ocean include urban sewage sludge dumping, runoff from copper mines, antifouling paints[3], Copper is an essential element for animals, especially decapods, gastropods and cephalopods need copper in the respiratory pigment hemocyanin. Hemocyanin is a protein which (like hemoglobin) binds oxygen to transport it to the tissues. It is however also one of the most toxic metals to a wide spectrum of marine life. [4] Copper concentrations between 1 and 10µg/l can seriously affect a large number of marine organisms. These concentrations have lethal effects on scallops, clams and isopods, while other species are protected by copper binding metallothioneins. [3],

Oysters appear to accumulate large amounts of copper in their leucocytes (a type of blood cel), where the do little harm. Copper like most other metals doesn't show biomagnifying characteristics.

See also

The relation between pollutants and disease in guillemots

Heavy metal content of mussels in the Western Scheldt estuary

Effects of copper-based antifouling paints on brine shrimp

Effects of heavy metals on the sperm quality and the larvae survival of sea urchins

Heavy metals in various Belgian benthic invertebrates


  3. 3.0 3.1 Kennish, M. J. (1996): Practical Handbook of Estuarine and Marine Pollution, CRC Press 524 pp
  4. Clark, R,B., 1999. Marine pollution. Oxford University press, Fourth edition, pp 161