Considering the impact of coastal dynamics on the radiocarbon (14C) marine reservoir effect (MRE), upwelling has the potential of enhancing marine influence, usually 14C depleted. Freshwater input can contribute either to increased reservoir offsets, when dead carbon from rock weathering is available, but also towards an atmospheric 14C signal, when the presence of terrestrial organic matter from catchment prevails. An overview of the MRE studies based on shellmounds on the coast of Rio de Janeiro reveals a pattern of negative local corrections for Saquarema and Rio das Ostras but positive values for Cabo Frio island, suggesting the presence of cold upwelling waters in Cabo Frio at 1.6–1.2 cal kBP. New results for a shellmound on the Ilha Grande island, in the western portion of the Rio de Janeiro coast, revealed a negative value at about 3 ka. We discuss distribution of MRE values and temporal variability in the region and their relation to ocean dynamics, continental input and the choice of marine organisms used for ∆R determination. A comparison of local reservoir offsets for the Saquarema region obtained from fish otolith and mollusk shells revealed similar ΔR distributions, showing that both materials can be equally used.