Ecological and pathological factors related to trace metal concentrations in harbour porpoises Phocoena phocoena from the North Sea and adjacent areas

Krishna Das, U Siebert, M Fontaine, T Jauniaux, L Holsbeek, Jm Bouquegneau

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There is growing concern about the health status of the harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena in the North Sea and adjacent areas. The interaction between toxicological results (Zn, Cd, Cu,
Fe, Se, Hg), stable isotope data (δ13C and δ15N) and the most common pathological findings, namely emaciation and lesions of the respiratory system, were investigated in 132 porpoises collected along the coasts of northern France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Iceland and Norway between 1994 and 2001. The body condition of harbour porpoises stranded on the French, Belgian and German coasts was poor compared to that of by-catch individuals from Iceland and Norway, as reflected by blubber
thickness and hepatic to total body-mass ratio. High Zn and Hg concentrations were observed in some porpoises collected along the southern North Sea coast compared to by-catch individuals from Iceland, Norway and the Baltic Sea. Increasing Zn levels were observed with deteriorating health condition (emaciation and bronchopneumonia), while Hg increases were not significant. The
increases were not related to shrinking liver mass which remained unchanged. These observations indicate a general redistribution of trace metals within the organs (muscles and blubber to liver), as a result of protein and lipid catabolism. Muscle δ13C and δ15N values remained unchanged with deteriorating body condition. Cd concentrations were associated only with age and low δ15N values, indicating that high Cd concentrations in Iceland and Norway porpoises may be partly diet-related, i.e. a result of Cd contaminated prey.
Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)283-295
Aantal pagina's13
TijdschriftMarine Ecology Progress Series
Vroegere onlinedatum1-nov-2004
StatusPublished - 2004

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