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See detailMercury in blood of free-ranging seals Phoca vitulina from the North Sea: Time-trend and association with environmental factors
Das, Krishna ULg; Brochoire, Charlène ULg; Chambosse, Mélanie et al

Conference (2012, March 27)

The harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) population from the North Sea has experienced various fluctuations these last decades due to habitat loss, prey fluctuation and pollution of the marine environment ... [more ▼]

The harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) population from the North Sea has experienced various fluctuations these last decades due to habitat loss, prey fluctuation and pollution of the marine environment. Recently, development of monitoring programs and non-invasive sampling techniques, including seal catches allowed blood sampling on a regular basis together with measurements of blubber thickness, body mass, sex and body length. Concentrations of total mercury (T-Hg) and other trace elements (Cd, Pb, Zn, Cu, Fe) as well as ∂13C and ∂15N values were determined by mass spectrometry in blood of 75 wild harbour seals caught in the German Wadden Sea between 1997 and 2011. ∂13C and ∂15N mean values (-17.5‰ and 18.1 ‰ respectively) were strongly similar to that measured previously in the muscle of stranded harbour seals from the Wadden Sea. In contrast, ∂15N mean value was strikingly higher than that recorded in grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) from Scotland (14.1 ‰ respectively; Habran et al. submitted.) while ∂13C values remained similar between the two seal species. These values confirmed the high trophic position of the harbour seal in the North Sea. In contrast to Cd and Pb, T-Hg in blood harbour seals reached concentrations as high as 2.1 μg.g-1 dry weight (10 times higher than the 0.21 μg.g-1 dry weight recorded for grey seals from Scotland) but depended on several factors including ∂15N values, age group and the body mass. T-Hg was detected in juveniles confirming maternal transfer to offspring and time-trend revealed no decrease of T-Hg in blood of harbour seals these last 15 years. [less ▲]

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