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Ecological and pathological factors related to trace metal concentrations in harbour porpoises Phocoena phocoena from the North Sea and adjacent areas
Das, K.; Siebert, U.; Fontaine, M.; Jauniaux, T.; Holsbeek, L.; Bouquegneau, J.M. (2004). Ecological and pathological factors related to trace metal concentrations in harbour porpoises Phocoena phocoena from the North Sea and adjacent areas. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 281: 283-295. dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps281283
In: Marine Ecology Progress Series. Inter-Research: Oldendorf/Luhe. ISSN 0171-8630, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 
    VLIZ: Open Repository 231680 [ OMA ]

Keywords
Author keywords
    North Sea; marine mammals; stable isotopes; heavy metals; harbour

Authors  Top 
  • Das, K., more
  • Siebert, U.
  • Fontaine, M., more
  • Jauniaux, T., more
  • Holsbeek, L., more
  • Bouquegneau, J.M., more

Abstract
    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 (d13C and d15N) 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 d13C and d15N values remained unchanged with deteriorating body condition. Cd concentrations were associated only with age and low d15N values, indicating that high Cd concentrations in Iceland and Norway porpoises may be partly diet-related, i.e. a result of Cd contaminated prey.

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