[MARMAM] New paper on contaminants and feeding ecology in Icelandic orcas

Anaïs Remili anaremili at gmail.com
Wed Mar 24 13:33:34 PDT 2021

Dear members of the MARMAM community,

My co-authors and I are pleased to announce our recent publication in
Environmental Science & Technology:
Individual Prey Specialization Drives PCBs in Icelandic Killer Whales:

You can find an explanation of our main findings here, in a non-academic
way: https://whalescientists.com/icelandic-orcas/ Feel free to share this
summary everywhere.

Here is the abstract:
Interindividual variation in prey specialization is an essential yet
overlooked aspect of wildlife feeding ecology, especially as it relates to
intrapopulation variation in exposure to toxic contaminants. Here, we
assessed blubber concentrations of an extensive suite of persistent organic
pollutants in Icelandic killer whales (Orcinus orca). Polychlorinated
biphenyl (PCB) concentrations in blubber were >300-fold higher in the most
contaminated individual relative to the least contaminated, ranging from
1.3 to 428.6 mg·kg–1 lw. Mean PCB concentrations were 6-to-9-fold greater
in individuals with a mixed diet including marine mammals than in fish
specialist individuals, whereas males showed PCB concentrations 4-fold
higher than females. Given PCBs have been identified as potentially
impacting killer whale population growth, and levels in mixed feeders
specifically exceeded known thresholds, the ecology of individuals must be
recognized to accurately forecast how contaminants may threaten the
long-term persistence of the world’s ultimate marine predator.

Please reach out to me if you have questions/comments or if you want the
PDF version of our paper. You can also reach me at
anais.remili at mail.mcgill.ca

Anaïs Remili
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