[MARMAM] New paper on pollution in humpback whales from Antarctica

Anaïs Remili anaremili at gmail.com
Tue Sep 15 06:03:44 PDT 2020

Dear MARMAM community,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce our recent publication
in Environmental Pollution:

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) breeding off Mozambique and
Ecuador show geographic variation of persistent organic pollutants and
isotopic niches

Here is a free access link to our paper

You can find an explanation of our main findings here, in a non academic
way: https://whalescientists.com/humpback-whales-pollution-antarctica/

Here is the abstract:

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) from the Southern Hemisphere carry
information on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) from their feeding
zones in Antarctica to their breeding grounds, making this species a
sentinel of contaminants accumulation in the Southern Ocean. This study
aimed to evaluate driving factors, namely feeding areas, trophic level, and
sex, affecting POP concentrations in the blubber of humpback whales
breeding off Mozambique and off Ecuador. Biopsies of free-ranging humpback
whales including blubber and skin were collected in 2014 and 2015 from
Ecuador (n = 59) and in 2017 from Mozambique (n = 89). In both populations,
HCB was the major contaminant followed by DDTs > CHLs > PCBs > HCHs >
PBDEs. POP concentrations were significantly higher in males compared to
females. HCB, DDTs, HCHs and PBDEs were significantly different between
whales from the Mozambique population and the Ecuador population. Sex and
feeding habits were important driving factors accounting for POP
concentrations in Ecuador whales. The whales from our study had some of the
lowest POP concentrations measured for humpback whales in the world. These
whales fed predominantly on krill as reflected from the low δ13C and δ15N
values measured in the skin. However, the isotopic niches of whales from
Mozambique and Ecuador did not overlap indicating that the two populations
are feeding in different areas of the Southern Ocean.

Do not hesitate to share the good news.



Anaïs Remili
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