[MARMAM] New publication: Persistent organic pollutants in free-ranging adult northern elephant seals

Sarah Peterson sarahpeterson23 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 14 16:28:19 PDT 2015

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce publication of the following article:

Peterson SP, Peterson MG, Debier C, Covaci A, Dirtu A, Malarvannan G,
Crocker DE, Schwarz LK, Costa DP (2015) Deep-ocean foraging northern
elephant seals bioaccumulate persistent organic pollutants. Science of the
Total Environment 533:144-155. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.06.097

*Highlights: *
All elephant seals had detectable concentrations of DDTs, PCBs, CHLs, and
PBDEs. • We quantified changes in the blubber burdens of POPs, within
individual seals. • Despite mass dilution while foraging, blubber burdens
showed POP ingestion. • Bioaccumulation of some POP compounds in seals
varied across the North Pacific. • Ratio of ΣDDTs:ΣPCBs corroborated
latitudinal variation seen in other species.

As top predators in the northeast Pacific Ocean, northern elephant
seals (*Mirounga
angustirostris*) are vulnerable to bioaccumulation of persistent organic
pollutants (POPs). Our study examined a suite of POPs in blubber (inner and
outer) and blood (serum) of free-ranging northern elephant seals. For adult
females (N=24), we satellite tracked and sampled the same seals before and
after their approximately seven month long foraging trip. For males,we
sampled different adults and sub-adults before (N=14) and after (N=15) the
same foraging trip. For females, we calculated blubber burdens for all
compounds. The highest POP concentrations in males and females were found
for ΣDDTs and ΣPCBs. In blubber and serum, males had significantly greater
concentrations than females for almost all compounds. For males and
females, ΣDDT and ΣPBDEs were highly correlated in blubber and serum. While
ΣPCBs were highly correlated with ΣDDTs and ΣPBDEs in blubber and serum for
males, ΣPCBs showed weaker correlations with both compounds in females. As
females gained mass while foraging, concentrations of nearly all POPs in
inner and outer blubber significantly decreased; however, the absolute
burden in blubber significantly increased, indicating ingestion of
contaminants while foraging. Additionally, we identified three clusters of
seal foraging behavior, based on geography, diving behavior, and stable
carbon and nitrogen isotopes, which corresponded with differences in ΣDDTs,
ΣPBDEs, MeO-BDE 47, as well as the ratio of ΣDDTs to ΣPCBs, indicating the
potential for behavior to heighten or mitigate contaminant exposure. The
greatest concentrations ofΣDDTs and ΣPBDEs were observed in the cluster
that foraged closer to the coast and had blood samples more enriched in
13C. Bioaccumulation of POPs by elephant seals supports mesopelagic food
webs as a sink for POPs and highlights elephant seals as a potential
sentinel of contamination in deep ocean food webs.

Please contact me if you do not have access to this article and you would
like a pdf (sarahpeterson23 at gmail.com).

Best regards, Sarah

Sarah Peterson, PhD
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department
University of California Santa Cruz - Long Marine Lab
100 Shaffer Road
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
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