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Publication Citation: Persistent Organic Pollutant Concentrations in Fat, Blubber, Blood and Eggs of Leatherback Turtles with Confirmation of Maternal Transfer

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Author(s): Jennifer M. Keller; John R. Kucklick; Kelly R. Stewart; Ryan Templeton; Chris Johnson;
Title: Persistent Organic Pollutant Concentrations in Fat, Blubber, Blood and Eggs of Leatherback Turtles with Confirmation of Maternal Transfer
Published: July 01, 2011
Abstract: Among contaminant studies in reptiles, turtles, and in particular sea turtles, are poorly represented. To assess threats to this endangered species, it is critical to establish baseline values for contaminant concentrations that may have detrimental consequences at the individual or population level. The purpose of this study was to measure and then evaluate the relationship between contaminant concentrations in blubber and fat samples from seven dead stranded leatherbacks along the beaches of the Southeastern USA. In addition, we aimed to establish baseline measurements of organohalogen contaminants (PCBs, pesticides, PBDEs, and toxaphenes) in nesting leatherback turtles from Florida and to investigate whether these contaminants are passed on to eggs using paired blood and egg samples from six turtles. In the fat and blubber samples, the five predominant PCBs were 153+132, 187+182, 138+163, 118, and 180+193. These five contaminants were also present in female blood and egg samples, but at different proportions than for the fat and blubber samples. Contaminant concentrations (total PCBs, 4,4‰-DDE, total PBDEs and total chlordanes) were positively correlated between the blood and egg samples from nesting turtles suggesting that these contaminants are passed to the eggs during lipid deposition. This relationship was also evident between the fat and blubber concentrations, but total PBDEs were not significant (p = 0.13). There was evidence that less lipophilic PCB congeners were more readily transferred from the females to their eggs than more lipophilic compounds. PBDE profiles in the four tissues were similar to what has been documented for other wildlife populations, but different from some other turtle studies. Although the contaminant concentrations that we measured in leatherbacks were much lower than those shown to have toxic or lethal effects in other aquatic turtles and reptiles, evidence from other sea turtle studies show that our measured concentrations may
Citation: Science of the Total Environment
Volume: 62
Issue: 7
Pages: pp. 1396 - 1409
Keywords: leatherback, contaminants, blood, fat, maternal transfer, PBDE
Research Areas: Organic Analytical Chemistry
PDF version: PDF Document Click here to retrieve PDF version of paper (247KB)