U.S. Department of Commerce

 

Authors

Cristiane T. Elfes, Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 1122 NE Boat Street, Box 355020, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
Glenn R. Vanblaricom, Washington Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, 1122 NE Boat Street, Box 355020, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
Daryle Boyd, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, Washington 98112
John Calambokidis, Cascadia Research Collective, 2181/2 West Fourth Avenue, Olympia, Washington 98501, USAFollow
Phillip J. Clapham, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 7600 Sand Point Way Northeast, Seattle, Washington 98115
Ronald W. Pearce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, Washington 98112
Jooke Robbins, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies, 5 Holway Avenue, Provincetown, Massachusetts 02657, USA
Juan Carlos Salinas, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, 8604 La Jolla Shores Drive, La Jolla, California
Janice M. Straley, University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka, Alaska 99835, USA
Paul R. Wade, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, 7600 Sand Point Way Northeast, Seattle, Washington 98115
Margaret M. Krahn, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, 2725 Montlake Boulevard East, Seattle, Washington 98112

Date of this Version

2010

Comments

Published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 824–834, 2010.

Abstract

Seasonal feeding behavior and high fidelity to feeding areas allow humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) to be used as biological indicators of regional contamination. Biopsy blubber samples from male individuals (n=67) were collected through SPLASH, a multinational research project, in eight North Pacific feeding grounds. Additional male samples (n=20) were collected from one North Atlantic feeding ground. Persistent organic pollutants were measured in the samples and used to assess contaminant distribution in the study areas. North Atlantic (Gulf of Maine) whales were more contaminated than North Pacific whales, showing the highest levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and chlordanes. The highest dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) levels were detected in whales feeding off southern California, USA. High-latitude regions were characterized by elevated levels of hexachlorocyclohexanes (HCHs) but generally nondetectable concentrations of PBDEs. Age was shown to have a positive relationship with ΣPCBs, ΣDDTs, Σchlordanes, and total percent lipid. Contaminant levels in humpback whales were comparable to other mysticetes and lower than those found in odontocete cetaceans and pinnipeds. Although these concentrations likely do not represent a significant conservation threat, levels in the Gulf of Maine and southern California may warrant further study.

Share

COinS