Bioaccumulation of POPs and toxic elements in small cetaceans along European Atlantic coasts

Graham J. Pierce, Florence Caurant, Robin J. Law

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Results on persistent organic and toxic element concentrations in tissues of small cetaceans from five northeast Atlantic European coastal regions in 2001-03 are summarised. PCB concentrations in blubber frequently exceeded the threshold at which effects on reproduction might be expected, notably in harbour porpoises from the southern North Sea (reflecting high concentrations in prey) and common dolphins from France. Concentrations were often higher in males than females, as expected since females transfer lipophilic pollutants to their offspring during pregnancy and lactation. Highest concentrations were recorded in blubber of bottlenose dolphins. The regional distributions of PBDE and HBCD concentrations differed from that of PCBs. Mercury concentrations
in liver were generally below the threshold for toxic effects. Cadmium levels never exceed the threshold for toxic effects and were higher in species feeding more on cephalopods. While strandings data may result in samples biased towards animals in a poor state of health, dangerously high concentrations of PCBs were nonetheless frequently recorded in small cetacean blubber during
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the ECS/ASCOBANS/ACCOBAMS Joint Workshop on Chemical Pollution and Marine Mammals
EditorsPeter G.H. Evans
Place of PublicationIsle of Anglesey
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013
EventProceedings of the ECS/Ascobans/Accobams Joint Workshop: European Cetacean Society’s 25th Annual Conference - Cádiz, Spain
Duration: 20 Mar 201120 Mar 2011

Publication series

NameECS Special Publication Series
PublisherEuropean Cetacean Society


ConferenceProceedings of the ECS/Ascobans/Accobams Joint Workshop
Internet address


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