New insights from age determination on toxic element accumulation in striped and bottlenose dolphins from Atlantic and Mediterranean waters

V. Lahaye, P. Bustamante, W. Dabin, O. Van Canneyt, F. Dhermain, C. Cesarini, Graham John Pierce, F. Caurant

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40 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed at comparing toxic element (Hg, Cd) bioaccumulation in relation to age for bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) and striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) from Mediterranean and Atlantic waters. Metal concentrations were also measured in selected prey to infer metal exposure through the diet. As expected, Mediterranean prey exhibited the highest Hg levels, probably as a consequence of the Hg enrichment of the Mediterranean Sea. Comparing the predators from each area and taking age into account, Mediterranean bottlenose dolphins displayed higher Hg levels than Atlantic dolphins (p = 0.032), whereas Mediterranean striped dolphins did not (p = 0.691). The consumption of Myctophid fish, which showed the highest Hg levels (105 +/- 80 ng g(-1) w.wt.) among Atlantic prey, may explain the high Hg levels in the liver of the Atlantic striped dolphins and suggested a preferential offshore feeding behaviour in this area. Concerning Cd, no clear differences were found between geographical areas. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1219-1230
Number of pages11
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number10
Early online date3 Mar 2006
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


  • Stenella coeruleoalba
  • Tursiops truncatus
  • mercury
  • cadmium
  • diet
  • exposure
  • stenella-coeruleoalba meyen
  • seals halichoerus-grypus
  • Arctic marine mammals
  • heavy-metals
  • trace-elements
  • Phocoena-Phocoena
  • tissue distribution
  • Tursiops-Truncatus
  • Northeast Atlantic
  • stranded dolphins

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