[MARMAM] New Publication: POPs in Pacific Island Stranded Cetaceans

Melannie Bachman - NOAA Affiliate melannie.bachman at noaa.gov
Wed Jun 4 13:56:40 PDT 2014

Dear Colleagues,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to inform you of our recent
publication in *Science of the Total Environment*.

Bachman MJ, Keller JM, West KL, Jensen BA.  Persistent organic pollutant
concentrations in blubber of 16 species of cetaceans stranded in the
Pacific Islands from 1997 through 2011. Sci Total Environ 2014; 488-489:

Abstract: Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are toxic man-made chemicals
that bioaccumulate and biomagnify in food webs, making them a ubiquitous
threat to the marine environment. Although many studies have determined
concentrations of POPs in top predators, no studies have quantified POPs in
stranded cetaceans within the last 30 years around the Hawaiian Islands. A
suite of POPs was measured in the blubber of 16 cetacean species that
stranded in the tropical Pacific, including Hawai'i from 1997 to 2011. The
sample set includes odontocetes (*n* = 39) and mysticetes (*n* = 3). Median
(range) contaminant concentrations in ng/g lipid for the most
representative species category (delphinids excluding killer whales [*n* = 27])
are: 9650 (44.4–99,100) for ∑DDTs, 6240 (40.8–50,200) for ∑PCBs, 1380
(6.73–9520) for ∑chlordanes, 1230 (13.4–5510) for ∑toxaphenes, 269
(1.99–10,100) for ∑PBDEs, 280 (2.14–4190) for mirex, 176 (5.43–857) for
HCB, 48.1 (< 5.42–566) for ∑HCHs, 33.9 (< 2.42–990) for ∑HBCDs, 1.65
(< 0.435–11.7) for octachlorostyrene and 1.49 (< 2.07–13.1) for
pentachlorobenzene. ∑PCB concentrations in these Pacific Island cetaceans
approach and sometimes exceed proposed toxic threshold values. Backward
stepwise multiple regressions indicated the influence of life history
parameters on contaminant concentrations when performed with three
independent variables (species category, year of stranding, and sex/age
class). No temporal trends were noted (*p* > 0.063), but sex/age class
influences were evident with adult males exhibiting greater contaminant
loads than adult females and juveniles for ∑DDT, ∑PCBs, ∑CHLs, and mirex (
*p* ≤ 0.036). POP concentrations were lower in mysticetes than odontocetes
for many compound classes (*p* ≤ 0.003). *p,p*′-DDE/∑DDTs ratios were
greater than 0.6 for all species except humpback whales, suggesting
exposure to an old DDT source. These POP levels are high enough to warrant
concern and continued monitoring.

This article is available online (
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S004896971400583X).  Please
send pdf requests to Melannie Bachman (melannie.bachman at noaa.gov).


Melannie Bachman

Melannie J. Bachman, MSc
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Hollings Marine Laboratory
331 Fort Johnson Road
Charleston, SC  29412
O: 843-762-8951
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