University Of Tasmania

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Trace element concentrations in liver of 16 species of cetaceans stranded on Pacific Islands from 1997 through 2013

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 05:15 authored by Angela Hansen, Bryan, CE, West, K, Jensen, BA
The impacts of anthropogenic contaminants on marine ecosystems are a concern worldwide. Anthropogenic activities can enrich trace elements in marine biota to concentrations that may negatively impact organism health. Exposure to elevated concentrations of trace elements is considered a contributing factor in marine mammal population declines. Hawai’i is an increasingly important geographic location for global monitoring, yet trace element concentrations have not been quantified in Hawaiian cetaceans, and there is little trace element data for Pacific cetaceans. This study measured trace elements (Cr, Mn, Cu, Zn, As, Se, Sr, Cd, Sn, Hg, and Pb) in liver of 16 species of cetaceans that stranded on U.S. Pacific Islands from 1997 to 2013, using high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (HR-ICP-MS) (n = 31), and direct mercury analysis atomic absorption spectrometry (DMA-AAS) (n = 43). Concentration ranges (μg/g wet mass fraction) for non-essential trace elements, such as Cd (0.0031–58.93) and Hg (0.0062–1571.75) were much greater than essential trace elements, such as Mn (0.590–17.31) and Zn (14.72–245.38). Differences were found among age classes in Cu, Zn, Hg, and Se concentrations. The highest concentrations of Se, Cd, Sn, Hg, and Pb were found in one adult female false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) at concentrations that are known to affect health in marine mammals. The results of this study establish initial trace element concentration ranges for Pacific cetaceans in the Hawaiian Islands region, provide insights into contaminant exposure of these marine mammals, and contribute to a greater understanding of anthropogenic impacts in the Pacific Ocean.


Publication title

Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies



Place of publication

175 Fifth Ave, New York, USA, Ny, 10010

Rights statement

Copyright 2015 Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA)

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences