||Intertidal species are more vulnerable to anthropogenic disturbances than others inhabiting subtidal and offshore habitats. Coastal development frequently results in trace-metal pollution. For endangered species such as Patella ferruginea it can be a high risk that leads local populations to extinction. Three localities were surveyed, one within a natural and unpolluted area and the other two within the harbor of Ceuta (Strait of Gibraltar), on breakwaters outside and inside. The specimens collected inside the harbor reached 3-fold higher Hg content than for those incoming from the natural area. PERMANOVA test indicated that metal composition of the specimens from inside the harbor was different from the rest. In addition, evidence of cell damage was detected in the specimens from the harbor area. This highlights the urgency of undertaking a physiological evaluation of some of the most vulnerable populations, establishing eco-physiological protocols for monitoring and managing populations settled on artificial substrata. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.