You may recognize Dan Dillon's 873-pound, record-breaking bluefin tuna, caught off the Delaware coast in July and cut up, inset, into steaks. Now, the snag: The fish's mercury level was also off the charts, measuring 2.5 parts per million, according to Oceana, the D.C.-based conservation group that tested a sample. That's 21/2 times the level at which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can act to stop the sale of fish. At high levels, the contaminant can cause neurological damage and interfere with fetal development.

Though bluefin tuna is rarely sold in markets, testing it was part of Oceana's efforts to press the FDA to require that supermarkets alert consumers to fish that the agency deems the riskiest, including swordfish, king mackerel, shark and tilefish.

The agency published consumer seafood guidelines in March, but, said Jackie Savitz, director of Oceana's Seafood Contamination Campaign, "nobody knows about them. . . . That's a big issue." More information is available from the FDA at 1-888-SAFEFOOD or{tilde}dms/admehg3.html.

-- Matt McMillen

SLUG: ME/BIGFISH DATE: Downloaded email 07/06/2005 (EEL) CREDIT: Doug Messeck, Division of Fish and Wildlife, DNREC [(Delaware) Dept of Natural Resources and Environmental Control] CAPTION: A new record for Delaware and the fourth largest fish ever caught in the USA. 873 lbs, 9 feet 7 inches Bluefin Tuna. Here, Dan Dillon, 39, of Herndon, the guy who caught the fish. Dillon is 6'2", 270 lbs.