[MARMAM] New paper comparing contaminant loads among marine mammals

Susan Chivers susan.chivers at noaa.gov
Tue Feb 12 08:29:30 PST 2019

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce publication of our paper comparing the 
accumulation of organic contaminantsin Southern California marine mammals.

Cossaboon, J. M., N. G. Dodder, S. J. Chivers, D. W. Weller, K. Danil, 
K. A. Maruya, and E. Hoh. 2019. Apex marine predators and ocean health: 
proactive screening of halogenated organic contaminants reveal ecosystem 
indicator species. Chemosphere. DOI: 0.1016/j.chemosphere.2019.01.050.


Despite decades-long bans on the production and use of certain 
chemicals, many halogenated organic compounds (HOCs) are persistent and 
can bioaccumulate in the marine environment with the potential to cause 
physiological harm to marine fauna. Highly lipid-rich tissue (e.g., 
marine mammal blubber) functions as a reservoir for HOCs, and selecting 
ideal indicator species is a priority for retrospective and proactive 
screening efforts. We selected five marine mammal species as possible 
indicators for the Southern California Bight (SCB) and applied a 
non-targeted analytical method paired with an automated data reduction 
strategy to catalog a broad range of known, known but unexpected, and 
unknown compounds in their blubber. A total of 194 HOCs were detected 
across the study species (n = 25 individuals), 81% of which are not 
routinely monitored, including 30 halogenated natural products and 45 
compounds of unknown structure and origin. The cetacean species 
(long-beaked common dolphin, short-beaked common dolphin, and Risso's 
dolphin) averaged 128 HOCs, whereas pinnipeds (California sea lion and 
Pacific harbor seal) averaged 47 HOCs. We suspect this disparity can be 
attributed to differences in life history, foraging strategies, and/or 
enzyme-mediated metabolism. Our results support proposing (1) the long- 
and short-beaked common dolphin as apex marine predator sentinels for 
future and retrospective biomonitoring of the SCB ecosystem and (2) the 
use of non-targeted contaminant analyses to identify and prioritize 
emerging contaminants. The use of a sentinel marine species together 
with the non-targeted analytical approach will enable a proactive 
approach to environmental contaminant monitoring.

The article can be found at: 


Susan Chivers and co-authors

Susan J. Chivers, Ph.D.
Marine Mammal and Turtle Division
Southwest Fisheries Science Center
National Marine Fisheries Service
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Phone: 858-945-0759
Email: Susan.Chivers at noaa.gov


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