Bottlenose dolphins as indicators of persistent organic pollutants in the western North Atlantic Ocean and northern Gulf of Mexico.
Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) including legacy POPs (PCBs, chlordanes, mirex, DDTs, HCB, and dieldrin) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants were determined in 300 blubber biopsy samples from coastal and near shore/estuarine male bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) sampled along the U.S. East and Gulf of Mexico coasts and Bermuda. Samples were from 14 locations including urban and rural estuaries and near a Superfund site (Brunswick, Georgia) contaminated with the PCB formulation Aroclor 1268. All classes of legacy POPs in estuarine stocks varied significantly (p < 0.05) among sampling locations. POP profiles in blubber varied by location with the most characteristic profile observed in bottlenose dolphins sampled near the Brunswick and Sapelo estuaries along the Georgia coast which differed significantly (p < 0.001) from other sites. Here and in Sapelo, PCB congeners from Aroclor 1268 dominated indicating widespread food web contamination by this PCB mixture. PCB 153, which is associated with non-Aroclor 1268 PCB formulations, correlated significantly to human population indicating contamination from a general urban PCB source. Factors influencing regional differences of other POPs were less clear and warrant further study. This work puts into geographical context POP contamination in dolphins to help prioritize efforts examining health effects from POP exposure in bottlenose dolphins.
Kucklick, J; Schwacke, L; Wells, R; Hohn, A; Guichard, A; Yordy, J; Hansen, L; Zolman, E; Wilson, R; Litz, J; Nowacek, D; Rowles, T; Pugh, R; Balmer, B; Sinclair, C; Rosel, P
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