[MARMAM] New Publication: Foraging behavior and mercury accumulation in northern elephant seals

Sarah Peterson sarahpeterson23 at gmail.com
Sat Jun 27 13:46:28 PDT 2015

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce publication of the following article:

Peterson SP, Ackerman JT, Costa DP (2015) Marine foraging ecology
influences mercury bioaccumulation in deep-diving northern elephant seals.
Proceedings of the Royal Society B 282: 20150710


Mercury contamination of oceans is prevalent worldwide and Methylmercury
concentrations in the mesopelagic zone (200–1000 m) are increasing more
rapidly than in surface waters. Yet mercury bioaccumulation in mesopelagic
predators has been understudied. Northern elephant seals (*Mirounga
angustirostris*) biannually travel thousands of kilometres to forage within
coastal and open-ocean regions of the northeast Pacific Ocean.We coupled
satellite telemetry, diving behaviour and stable isotopes (carbon and
nitrogen) from 77 adult females, and showed that variability among
individuals in foraging location, diving depth and δ13C values were
correlated with mercury concentrations in blood and muscle. We identified
three clusters of foraging strategies, and these resulted in substantially
different mercury concentrations: (i) deeper-diving and offshore-foraging
seals had the greatest mercury concentrations, (ii) shallower-diving and
offshore-foraging seals had intermediate levels, and (iii) coastal and more
northerly foraging seals had the lowest mercury concentrations.
Additionally, mercury concentrations were lower at the end of the
seven-month-long foraging trip (*n* = 31) than after the two-month-long
post-breeding trip (*n* = 46). Our results indicate that foraging behaviour
influences mercury exposure and mesopelagic predators foraging in the
northeast Pacific Ocean may be at high risk for mercury bioaccumulation.


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, Ph.D.
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department
University of California Santa Cruz - Long Marine Lab
100 Shaffer Road
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
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