An assessment of contaminant concentrations in toothed whale species of the NW Iberian Peninsula: Part II. Trace element concentrations

Paula Mendez-Fernandez*, Lynda Webster, Tiphaine Chouvelon, Paco Bustamante, Marisa Ferreira, Angel F. Gonzalez, Alfredo Lopez, Colin F. Moffat, Graham J. Pierce, Fiona L. Read, Marie Russell, Maria B. Santos, Jerome Spitz, Jose V. Vingada, Florence Caurant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


Concentrations of Ag, As, Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Fe, Hg, Mn, Ni, Pb, Se, V and Zn were investigated in the liver and kidney of the five most common toothed whales off the Northwest Iberian Peninsula (NWIP), specifically common dolphin, long-finned pilot whale, harbour porpoise, striped dolphin and bottlenose dolphin. Differences were observed in the bioaccumulation of the above elements between the five species. The differences are probably related to biological factors such as age and sex and/or to ecological factors specific to each species such as feeding habits or bioavailability of the various elements. However, no significant relationship was observed between element accumulation and sex. Pilot whale and striped dolphin showed the highest concentrations of renal Cd and the highest concentrations of hepatic Hg and Se, while bottlenose dolphin showed the highest concentrations of Hg in kidneys. An analysis of inter-elemental relationships showed strong positive correlations between Hg and Se in the five species, however most individuals have Hg:Se molar ratio less than 1:1 indicating an excess of Se compare to Hg. This result, probably reflect the high proportion of young animals in the sample available for this study and/or that these animals had a good health status. We also observed a positive correlation in striped dolphins between Cd and Cu and between Cd and Zn in kidneys. In addition, comparing with other studies world-wide, the element concentrations (Hg and Cd) found in Iberian toothed whales indicate that these populations are not specially threatened by Hg and Cd exposure in the area. (C) 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)206-217
Number of pages12
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date1 Apr 2014
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2014


  • Trace elements
  • Bioaccumulation
  • Toothed whales
  • Northwest Iberian Peninsula
  • Bottle-nosed dolphins
  • Porpoises phocoena-phocoena
  • Prestige oil-spill
  • Seals halichoerus-grypus
  • Western-European Seas
  • Finned pilot whales
  • Marine mammals
  • Heavy-metals
  • Stenella-Coeruleoalba
  • Northeast Atlantic


Dive into the research topics of 'An assessment of contaminant concentrations in toothed whale species of the NW Iberian Peninsula: Part II. Trace element concentrations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this