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Harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) stranded along the southern North Sea: an assessment through metallic contamination
Mahfouz, C; Henry, F; Courcot, L; Pezeril, S; Bouveroux, T; Dabin, W; Jauniaux, T.; Khalaf, G; Amara, R (2014). Harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) stranded along the southern North Sea: an assessment through metallic contamination. Environ. Res. 133: 266-273.
In: Environmental Research. Elsevier: Amsterdam. ISSN 0013-9351; e-ISSN 1096-0953, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Phocoena phocoena (Linnaeus, 1758) [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    Harbour porpoise; Stranding; Metals; Southern North Sea

Authors  Top 
  • Mahfouz, C
  • Henry, F
  • Courcot, L
  • Pezeril, S
  • Bouveroux, T
  • Dabin, W
  • Jauniaux, T., more
  • Khalaf, G
  • Amara, R

    Throughout the last few years, the southern North Sea has witnessed an increase in the number of stranded marine mammals, particularly the harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). This species is subject to several potential threats such as exposure to contaminants, changes in food supply, marine traffic and fishery by-catch. The aims of this study were to investigate potential associations between contaminants and health status and to analyze spatial and temporal trends of metal concentrations in harbour porpoises. Selected trace elements (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Hg, Mn, Se, V and Zn) were measured in kidneys and livers of 105 harbour porpoises stranded along the southern North Sea (French and Belgian coasts from 2006 to 2013) and 27 stranded along the Bay of Biscay (French coast from 2009 to 2012). Porpoises that died from infectious disease displayed significant higher hepatic concentrations of Cd, Hg, Se and Zn compared to healthy porpoises that died from physical trauma. Adult porpoises displayed significant higher concentrations of Cd, Cr, Hg, Se and V in livers compared to juveniles. No spatial or temporal trends in metal concentrations were detected in our study. The results of the present study suggested that chemical contamination may represent one of many threats encountered by harbour porpoises, but it cannot explain alone the increase in the number of stranded individuals.

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